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Ship's patron to see developments

Patron of the ss Great Britain Trust, HRH The Duke of York, is visiting Brunel’s ss Great Britain and the Brunel Institute on October 18.

The Duke last visited the iconic landmark and historic ship, Brunel’s ss Great Britain in Bristol, in July 2005 following the completion of a £11.3 million conservation and restoration project. In 2008 The Duke hosted the official launch at St James’ Palace in London of the fundraising campaign for the Trust’s Brunel Institute project.
 
Since then, in November 2010, the Trust has opened the £6 million Brunel Institute, with its:

  • National Brunel Archive – a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the ss Great Britain Trust;
  • Specialist David MacGregor Library;
  • Ambitious educational programmes, supported by The Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust (The LRET), including ‘Sea Hear’ storytelling for pre-school children; ‘Golden Ticket’ scheme for schoolchildren and their families from deprived city wards; ‘Brunel Badge’ educational workshops and loan box scheme; and ‘Future Brunels’, providing a cohort of teenaged students with unique scientific and engineering experiences and opportunities. 

Brunel’s ss Great Britain has also witnessed considerable change including a new historic galley, improved trails, the Crimean troop display, and scenes showing dockyard preparations for the ship’s two-month voyage to Australia.
 
Since the Duke of York’s last visit Brunel’s ss Great Britain has received more than 20 major tourism, heritage, conservation, educational and access awards.
 
The Duke of York will see the state-of-the-art Viridor Lecture Theatre and Kirby Laing Room, in use by its educational team and Bristol schoolchildren; the National Brunel Archive – a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the ss Great Britain Trust – with its unique collection of engineering drawings, private letters, portraits and sketches; staff and volunteers working within the conservation suite, the David MacGregor Library – a world-class specialist maritime library – and Foyle Reading Room; and the Great Western Room, with its stunning wall feature made of wooden 1880s’ cladding taken from the ship’s hull during conservation.
 
In addition The Duke of York will also be officially introduced to the Lord Mayor of Bristol Councillor Geoffrey Gollop, the High Sheriff of Bristol Dr John Cottrell, Trustee of The LRET Nigel Hollebone, the ss Great Britain Trust’s Chairman Colin Green CBE and Director and Chief Executive Matthew Tanner MBE. The Duke and a small group of guests will have a private lunch in the Hayward Saloon on board ship to discuss education and conservation matters.
 
The ss Great Britain Trust’s Director and Chief Executive Matthew Tanner MBE, commented: “We are delighted to be able to welcome our Patron, The Duke of York, back to Bristol and Brunel’s ss Great Britain, and to show him what has been achieved over the last few years, including the opening of the Brunel Institute.
 
“As the ss Great Britain Trust’s Patron, The Duke continues actively to support our conservation and education work. The Trust’s Chairman, staff and volunteers are especially delighted to be able to show The Duke educational and conservation activities in action, as well as further improvements to the visitor experience.”
 
The ss Great Britain has strong links with the royal family: Prince Albert launched the ship in Bristol in 1843; Queen Victoria visited the ship in London and recorded how impressed she was in her diary; HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was on board the ss Great Britain when she returned to her dry dock in 1970 and was Patron of the ss Great Britain Project; and The Duke of York followed his father’s example to become Patron of the ss Great Britain Trust; The Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, The Duke of York and The Prince of Wales all visited the ss Great Britain as children.
 

The ss Great Britain Trust is a registered charity, and independent museum, which receives no funding from central or local government. It generates funds to care for the historic ship and deliver its educational work through visitor admissions, café and retail sales, its corporate and private venue hire, including weddings, and through fundraising from major donors, members, corporates and charitable trusts.
 
Funding for the Trust’s Brunel Institute has come from The LRET, the Society of Merchant Venturers, Heritage Lottery Fund, Viridor Credits Environmental Company, Foyle Foundation, Medlock Charitable Trust, Kirby Laing Foundation, Wolfson Foundation, J. Paul Getty Jnr. Charitable Trust, Biffaward, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the estates of David MacGregor and of April Thornton, Linden Homes Western, plus a members’ and supporters’ appeal backed by the Bristol Evening Post. The ss Great Britain Trust has worked with partners including Bristol City Council, and the University of Bristol and the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust.