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Meet the volunteers: Bethany Pleydell

Library volunteer, Bethany Pleydell


From guiding people around the ship, improving access to the library Collection to helping with our educational activities, meet the people making a difference and find out what it's like to volunteer at Brunel's ss Great Britain.

Bethany Pleydell, Library Volunteer

'I am a Library Volunteer at the ss Great Britain Trust, and a PhD student at the University of Bristol where I research Renaissance textiles and costume. At times, my research can feel worlds apart from the type of volunteer work I carry out at the ship (as well as its Victorian collections!) at others, it seems remarkably close. For one morning a week, I get to develop the all-important skills I need for a career in museums and research; working with a small team of volunteers to carry out conservation projects at the Brunel Institute and museum, handle rare and delicate objects, and lead ‘Conservation in Action’ tours for the general public. I’ve even had the opportunity to join the Trust’s sewing group, helping to repair replica costumes from the ship!

One of the highlights of volunteering at the Trust is the wonderful and varied interactions I have with visitors. From hearing about their memories of the ship arriving back in Bristol in 1970, to discussing how best they might conserve their own sixteenth-century cabinets or track down ships that their family members once sailed on - no two visitors (or weeks) at the ship are the same. I began volunteering at the ss Great Britain with the intention of expanding upon my museum experience and finding some respite from my PhD project. As the weeks have progressed I have found myself growing increasingly fond of this lovely old ship; becoming absorbed in her fascinating history, and feeling proud to be a part of the wonderful community of staff and volunteers that care for her.'


Our volunteers play an important part in all that we do. Having our volunteer team provides more opportunity for visitors to engage with a person, ask questions and to learn more.

If you are interested in volunteering at Brunel's ss Great Britain, please visit our volunteers page for more information and news. The opening of our new museum in 2018 will create new roles and opportunities. More information on how you can get involved will be updated soon.