I wrote this poem on the day the SS Great Britain was brought back to Bristol in 1970. We were living in Nailsea at the time - at the village police station - and I remember listening to coverage on the radio, wishing I could be there to see her towed up the river, and being inspired to put pen to paper.
Now, of course, she is beautifully restored - and I pass her dock often when I am on my way back to Radstock from my new home in Leigh Woods. I was recently reminded of the poem, and wanted to share it with you.
THE GREAT BRITAIN
A Traditional Tribute
They brought her home to Bristol
Halfway across the earth
To the islands that had named her
And the city that gave her birth
Limping, but proud
Scarred, but unbowed
Her iron hull the measure of her worth.
The angry seas have buffeted
The savage winds have torn
But staunchly she has raised her mast
And ridden out the storm.
Washed by uncounted tides
Calm now, at anchor rides
Protected in the bosom of her home.
Cheering thousands line the banks.
They make the pilgrimage
To watch as Brunel's iron ship
Sails under Brunel's bridge.
They wait to see
And pay their tribute to a passing age.
Down to her blackened wooden decks
The ticker tape is thrown
And on the following little ships
The sirens loud are blown.
Now on the tide
Decked like a bride
They bring the great Great Britain home.
Even after all this time it raises goose bumps on my neck. I hope it does the same for you!