ss Great Britain Trust plans for major new visitor experience – ‘Being Brunel’

‘Being Brunel’ project – interior image.  Artist:Fred Gambino

The total cost of the project is estimated at £7m and the ss Great Britain Trust has approached HLF for a grant of £4.7m.

The initial grant of £176,000 will enable the trust to develop the project proposal and submit a Round Two application. If that application is successful the ‘Being Brunel’ national project can go ahead – aiming to open to the public in 2016.

'Being Brunel' will bring together the heritage of the life and works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, making the amazing collections publicly accessible for the first time.

A major redevelopment of the derelict buildings, that overlook the floating harbour towards Hotwell Road, will allow visitors to discover original Brunel artefacts, many having never been on display before, explore the life and world of the ‘hero engineer’ and step back in time inside his original Drawing Office.

The visionary new development will form the hub of a new National Brunel Network of people, places, institutions and heritage resources around the UK.

Matthew Tanner MBE, Chief Executive, ss Great Britain Trust said: “Visitors will be able to explore Brunel’s life and works and then compare their own skills to his, relating his achievements to the modern world. We feel there’s no better epicentre than Bristol for this to happen.

“We aim to inspire the next generation of young scientists and engineers with everything we do at the ss Great Britain Trust. The ‘Being Brunel’ museum development and national network will do just this."

Notes to editors

About Brunel’s ss Great Britain

  • Brunel’s ss Great Britain is the world’s first great ocean liner and the most experimental steam ship of her time. Launched in 1843, this iron-hulled steamship revolutionised travel and set new standards in engineering, reliability and speed. Today, Brunel’s ss Great Britain is Bristol’s no.1 visitor attraction (as voted by the public on Trip Advisor) and home to the Brunel Institute, housing one of the world’s finest maritime and Brunel collections.
  • Please note, for brand continuity, the attraction is ‘Brunel’s ss Great Britain’, the ship herself is the ‘ss Great Britain’, the charity which manages and maintains the ship is the ‘ss Great Britain Trust’ and the trading branch of the charity is ‘ss Great Britain Trading Ltd.’. The ‘ss’ is always written in lower case or small caps; or in a smaller font size when only capitalisation is available.
  • Brunel’s ss Great Britain has won over 30 major awards covering heritage, tourism, conservation, access, education, venue hire and customer service; including:
    3* in Michelin Guide to Great Britain, 2012
    Rough Guide to Accessible Britain, 2010
    England’s Large Visitor Attraction, 2007
    UK Museum of the Year 2006

Further information
Please contact PR, Content and Social Media Manager Jess Hellens on 0117 926 0680 ext 309 or email:

Laura Bates, HLF press office on 020 7591 6027, email:


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