March 31, 1838 — Construction of the SS Great Western is completed

Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s design for the SS Great Western, which he designed (with some assistance from Thomas Guppy and other members of the Great Western Steamship Company) for the company whose name it bore, was a revolutionary design, and a breakthrough in ship construction. Brunel’s key insight was that the carrying capacity of a ship increases as the cube of its dimensions, whilst the water resistance only increases as the square of its dimensions – which meant that a larger ship was disproportionately more effective in speed and fuel economy.

The SS Great Western would become the model for all successful paddle steamships in the Atlantic, and its owners were able to turn a profit from it even though it was the only ship they ran for several years. It was later sold off after the dissolution of the company, passing through various hands and seeing service as a troopship during the Crimean War. It was broken up for salvage in 1856.

The Steamer Great Western of Bristol RMG A7626.jpg
By A. Robertson; Napoleon Sarony; Robinson, H. R. – http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/148806, Public Domain, Link

As mentioned in:

Brunel — The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing