Great Eastern Launch Site
The Brunel Museum is close to the construction and launch site of Brunel’s last project, the Great Eastern (or Leviathan). The Great Eastern was an iron sailing steamship and the biggest ship in the world for half a century. It carried enough coal to steam from England to Australia and back again without re-fuelling and was six times bigger than anything else afloat. At seven hundred feet it was longer than his railway terminus at Paddington, and was launched sideways in 1858 because the Thames is not wide enough.
The site is in Tower Hamlets, and you can usually reach it by one of our (currently paused) guided daily boat tours. [Usual schedule: Meet Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday at 10.30 Embankment tube and descend to the pier as a group. The boat is easiest and costs more than other options, but tickets are half price on our tours and other days there are discounts for Travelcard holders).] The great ship was broken up, but Thames Clippers will take you to the original launch ramps, now landscaped into gardens by the river pier. The information board, timbers and a very large chain are not visible from the river, so disembark at Masthouse Terrace on your way to Greenwich, or before turning back for the City. We hope to improve the visitor experience and add more information, but meanwhile relax and enjoy the view – the next boat is in twenty minutes:
Great Eastern Launch Ramps
Getting there from the Brunel Museum
The wealth and variety of transport services in Docklands means there are many options, using bus, private ferry, Thames Clipper, tube, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway and a foot tunnel under the river!
Going by boat
Bus and boat. Take bus C10 from Rotherhithe station to the Hilton, then Hilton Hotel ferry to Canary Wharf Pier, then Thames Clipper to Masthouse Terrace Pier. The launch ramps are ten paces away.
Train, walk and boat. Take London Overground from Rotherhithe to Surrey Quays. A 15 minute walk* takes you to Greenland Pier, and a Thames Clipper takes you one stop east to Masthouse Terrace Pier.
* exit Surrey Quays for shopping centre, keep shopping centre on your left and take footway under road bridge to Greenland Dock. Follow dock till you reach the river and turn right, heading downstream to Greenland Pier.
On land/under the river
Tube and bus. Take the Jubilee Line from Canada Water to Canary Wharf. At Canary Wharf take buses D3, D7 or 135 to Westferry Road (St Edmunds School), a few yards from the launch site.
Bus and foot tunnel. Take bus 188 from Canada Water to Greenwich, the foot tunnel to Island Gardens and ten minute walk upstream
Train and bus. Take London Overground through the Thames Tunnel to Wapping. At Wapping take bus D3 (every 10 mins Mon-Sat, every 15 mins Sunday) to Westferry Road (St Edmunds School), a few yards from the launch site.
Train and DLR. Take London Overground through the Thames Tunnel to Shadwell. At Shadwell take the DLR across the Isle of Dogs to Island Gardens, then it’s a ten minute walk upstream.