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The Dock Office

Artist’s impression of how the Drawing Office might look as part of the national Brunel Museum

Work has taken place to restore the historic Dock Office building, ready to open it to visitors.

The Grade II* listed building will become part of a £7.2million national Brunel Museum, opening in February 2018, telling the story and inspiration of the world’s greatest-ever engineer.

There will be special tours in 2016 and 2017 to see what’s going on inside. Sign-up to our e-newsletter to hear about special events and tours at Brunel’s ss Great Britain throughout the year.

When the new national Brunel museum opens in early 2018, visitors will see the Dock Office as Brunel did and join in one of the most important debates of the great engineer’s career.

The conservation of this building is generously funded by AIM Biffa Award as part of the Heritage Landmarks Scheme.

What happened here?

From 1840 the Dock Office was the gateway to the Great Western Dockyard – then the most modern and well-equipped shipyard in Bristol. Brunel worked closely with the Great Western Steamship Company to build the ss Great Britain - a new, iron-hulled steamship.

the dock office building

Evidence suggests that Brunel was often on site, to inspect work in progress and discuss design. It is likely that he used the Drawing Office, with its wide oriel window. This office interior is being restored to its original, 1840s, appearance. There is little evidence about how it looked, but we have some clues. One of these is in the wall surface – analysis of paint samples tells us that the walls were first covered with white distemper, a glue-based paint.

Contractor, K P Wilton and Son, has undertaken important structural restoration, including specialist joinery work on the building’s historic windows by their expert carpenter.

K.P. Wilton and Son undertaking important structural restoration
Main image: Artist’s impression of how the Drawing Office might look as part of the national Brunel Museum (Easy Tiger Creative)