3 SEPTEMBER 1988, Page 15

One hundred years ago

AFTER all her thirty years of ill-luck and strange misadventures, the 'Great Eastern' is to be broken up. No doubt the sailors will tell us that she is quite useless as a ship; still, it seems a pity that one of the greatest wonders of naval construction, while sound in all her timbers, can be turned to no better account than to be sold for firewood and old iron. The great ship was suc- cessfully beached on the Cheshire shore of the Mersey on Saturday. Yet even in her passage to the shambles her prover- bial ill-luck did not desert her. While being towed from the Clyde, where she had been moored, the weather became stormy, and the 'Great Eastern' had to be cast loose, and for four hours re- mained utterly unmanageable, — roll- ing about at the mercy of the seas. No great damage, however, was done, and when the gale abated she was safely brought into smooth water. Many sug- gestions have been made as to what shall be done with her. Perhaps the best is that she should be stationed at the mouth of the Thames, and fitted up as a sanatorium for patients who, though discharged as cured from the hospitals, need quiet and fresh and bracing air. Used in this way she might indeed prove a real gain to the sick of London. She would hold a thousand patients and more, and no wave in the estuary of the Thames would be big enough to make her uncomfortable to sea-scared lands- men.

The Spectator, 1 September 1888