Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the SS Great Britain was the largest ship afloat when she was launched on 19 July 1843. Living TV's Most Haunted has described the SS Great Britain as one of the five most haunted places in Britain.
It was the world's first great ocean liner, carrying thousands of immigrants to Australia and transporting troops during the Crimean War. Brunel's 167-year-old SS Great Britain has had an illustrious history.
The ship's long history includes some tragic events, Captain Gray is rumoured to have committed suicide leaping from his cabin window; a young bride, Mrs Cohen, died on board within weeks of marriage; a young sailor fell from the rigging to his death; others were swept overboard; babies, young children, and the elderly died on the long two-month voyages to Australia.
The ghostly figure of a woman on the Promenade deck was seen by workers just before completion of works for the ship's re-launch in 2005. The woman vanished when workers approached her; the woman's identity is not known.
In 1992, Sonny Graffo, a 17 year old student of travel and tourism who was doing a work placement in the souvenir shop had a strange experience when touring the ship. "I was looking across a deep chasm into the bowels of the ship, about 30 or 40 feet below me there were beams of wood going across the gantries. I did a double-take and saw a chap sat on a beam of wood, staring across the gap back at me.
He was wearing a white-collared shirt, had broad shoulders, a grey-white beard and looked scruffy. He was just sat there swinging his legs, and looked like he had been dragged through a hedge backwards, a bit like Captain Birdseye. I thought he was a workman and called across to him, but he just sat there staring at me. Then I wondered how he could have got there, as there was no way of getting out to the plank."
When he got back to the shop and told the staff what he had seen, Sonny was told it was probably "Johnny", an apparition that had been seen before. When shown a picture of Captain Gray he described the figure he had seen as "strikingly similar."Captain John Gray disappeared from the ship mid journey one night in 1872. It was thought to be suicide.
In 1999 a consultant Derek Sinclair was working alone at night in the ship's Forward Hold, when he heard very distinctly and clearly the sound of heavy footsteps coming down the stairs inside the former Crew's Quarters in the next compartment. Convinced that a colleague had come on board to find him, he put his head round the door only to find the room dark and empty. He rushed off the ship to see his colleague who had remained in the nearby office building, and confirmed that no one else was even on site, let alone on board the ship.
A member of the events team, and SS Great Britain Trust Steward Bob Evans, reported hearing the sound of music playing within the ship when they investigated they could not find the source. Martin Williamson, who acts as 'Mr Brunel' at the visitor attraction, saw the lower part of someone or something's leg disappearing through a door.
Whilst preparing for an event, on a late night in the summer of 2008, a member of staff reported seeing the face of a small child. It was just outside of the Steerage compartment, as she was going down the stairs to the ship's Hayward Saloon.
Mr Wade, a security officer, claimed he experienced 'unusual goings-on' while doing his nightly check on board. He said: "I saw a door move backwards and forwards and heard noises onboard, including the sound of locked doors slamming near the Captain's Cabin. On one occasion I actually watched a door handle turn clockwise slowly and when I tried to open the door, it was locked. When I used my key to open the door, there was no one in the room.
Then I heard a bang and heavy footsteps at the other end of the Promenade Deck, and watched a door slam shut. When I checked it, the door was locked. One night I heard distant voices and the room went really cold. I am certain I felt a presence there with me." Mr Wade told how other colleagues said that they 'felt strange' on board and one or two security officers actually refused to work onboard the SS Great Britain.
When Living TV's Most Haunted team investigated the SS Great Britain, Parapsychologist Ciaran O'Keeffe requested that the spirits should make their presence known. He asked the spirits if they could make his colleague, who was out of earshot, feel tired and to put a hat on his head. When asked if he experienced anything the colleague said he had felt exhausted and had wanted to lie down, and something had been tickling his head.