Toshiba Air Conditioning - Project Showcase

The historic steamship "SS Great Britain", United Kingdom


Application details

For steamship "ss Great Britain" Bristol-based contractor H & F Air Conditioning worked closely with Toshiba distributor AMP Air Conditioning to come up with a technologically advanced solution that would not detract from the historic ambiance of her function rooms.

toshiba on the steamship

The systems operate on R410A non-ozone depleting refrigerant and feature twin-inverter condensers for maximum energy efficiency and flexibility.


Every year more than 16,000 function and venue hire guests are welcomed on board. Brunel’s ss Great Britain also offers dining experiences from Sea Shanty Nights and Murder Mysteries to Christmas Lunches, Parties and Banquets. Both function spaces were designed for 19th century rather than 21st century requirements – which is where the need for a modern air conditioning system arose. Situated below decks, and with no windows the rooms could become overheated when filled with guests.

The solution was to install two independent systems. The First Class Dining Saloon is cooled by an 18HP Toshiba SMMS VRF heat pump connected to nine indoor MML-AP 0181 BH floor standing chassis units, while a 6HP ToshibaMiNi-SMMS VRF heat pump and three indoor MML-AP 0241 floor standing chassis units serve the Hayward Saloon.

toshiba smms

A touch of Brunels ingenuity was required to install the systems without detracting from the historical ambiance of the surroundings. No new holes could be drilled in the iron hull and no modern equipment could be on public display. To improve efficiency and sustainability, the system also feeds warm air back into the air-handling unit that controls the low humidity environment around the ship that stops her corroding. The indoor units within the Hayward Suite, for example, are hidden behind oak panelling. In the First Class Dining Saloon the units are mounted with only the grilles visible to diners.

toshiba smms unitThe outside units are cunningly tucked away too testament to their compact design. One is sited behind the lift to the lower level, while the outside unit for the Hayward Saloon isnt even outside. It sits in the keel of the ship, hidden behind a recreation of the ships new Crimean War horse display complete with mannequin horses.

The ss Great Britain Trusts Director of Commercial and Visitor Services, Deborah Germaine, commented: “Brunels ss Great Britain enjoys a fabulous reputation within Bristol and the south west for private and corporate functions, weddings and civil partnerships. Steeped in history, the setting is unique and stunning, and we also offer quality service. It is important to all the events team that guests have the best possible experience onboard ship, and this new air conditioning system will help especially during warmer weather. The company has worked hard to meet the requirements of the ss Great Britain Trust, and to ensure that the modern equipment is hidden wherever possible.”

What is "SS Great Britain"?

SS Great Britain was an advanced passenger steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Great Western Steamship Company's transatlantic Bristol—New York service. While other ships had previously been built of iron or equipped with a screw propeller, Great Britain was the first to combine these features in a large ocean-going ship.

When launched in 1843, Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. However, her protracted construction and high cost had left her owners in a difficult financial position, and they were forced out of business in 1846 after the ship was stranded by a navigational error. Sold for salvage and repaired, Great Britain carried thousands of immigrants to Australia until converted to sail in 1881. Three years later, the vessel was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was utilised as a warehouse, quarantine ship and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937.

In 1970, the Great Britain was returned to the Bristol dry dock where she was first built. Now listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Core Collection, the vessel is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship in Bristol Harbour, with between 150,000-170,000 visitors annually.

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