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A Royal Engagement

The ss Great Britain Trust Patron, HRH The Duke of York KG, invited a distinguished list of guests to St James’s Palace for the launch of ‘Being Brunel: the national Brunel project’.


Being Brunel is a national project focused on an exciting new museum and visitor experience, which will bring Brunel’s life and work vividly to life in creative and entertaining ways. There will be a redevelopment of the derelict 20th century buildings on the Great Western Dockyard, next to the ss Great Britain, and a refurbishment of the Grade II* listed ‘Brunel’ Drawing Office. Within this new museum, you will be able to explore the great engineer’s polymathic mind by literally stepping into a gargantuan Brunel head, which will fill the height of the building.

At the launch, guests were treated to exclusive previews of some of the fascinating, never-before-seen personal possessions that will be on display in the museum. Brunel’s cigar case, which contains a half-smoked cigar, his personal penknife engraved with I.K.B and some of his work sketchbooks were among the collection. It is impossible to see the gnarled horn-handle of Brunel’s penknife without imagining the hard-working hand which would have gripped it, and the cigar case alludes to the finer things he may have enjoyed in life.

The launch was a triumph with speeches from The Duke of York, Matthew Tanner MBE and two of the ss Great Britain Trust’s Future Brunels. Tom and Hollie, bright young members of the next generation of scientists and engineers, bravely delivered their speeches to the gathered congregation, showing everybody precisely how important projects like these are; not just in relation to British history, but also to its future.

‘Being Brunel: the national Brunel project’ is due to be opened by early 2018.

Find out more HERE.