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Brunel History Fellow in the Brunel Institute


Reporting to: Director of Interpretation, Collections and Education

Liason with: Interpretation, Collections and Education staff and volunteers, the Curatorial and Education sub-committee, the Brunel Research Advisory Group, and the Brunel Institute Collaboration Management Board.

Hours and salary: This is a full time position with a salary package of £32,000 to £36,000 p.a. for a five-year fixed-term contract is offered. This post is part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and by the University of Bristol.

Employed by: SS Great Britain Trust

The Brunel Institute, SS Great Britain Trust, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, holds a unique collection of archival material and objects relating to the life and works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his family. The aim of the Brunel Public History Fellow is to build a substantial reputation for the Brunel Institute in research and the public understanding of Brunel, his relevance today, and to encourage wider knowledge and use of its collection.

Primary roles of job:

  • Lead and develop academic research on the life and legacy of I.K. Brunel and his works.
  • Strengthen, support and champion the partnership between the University of Bristol and the SS Great Britain Trust.
  • Develop strong links with the wider academic community.
  • Research, secure and disseminate knowledge about the life and legacy of I.K. Brunel and his works.
  • Support and engage specialist and non-specialist audiences at the Institute alike.
  • Develop and promote collaborative working on shared activities and initiatives with partners such as the National Brunel Network.

Main Tasks

  • Develop a good knowledge of the Brunel collections and resources relating to I.K. Brunel held by the SS Great Britain Trust and its partners and other relevant archives
  • Identify the priority areas of research into the life, works and influence of Brunel, and develop means to address them.
  • Working with volunteers, develop and deliver a programme for research, publication and relevant activities.
  • Encourage scholarly research through development of finding aids, on line access, conferences and networking.
  • Provide scholarly support for the Trust’s curatorial activities
  • Disseminate new research findings to specialist and non-specialist audiences using agreed communication channels such as articles, conference papers, blog posts and lectures and public talks/demonstrations.
  • Strengthen links with the University of Bristol and other relevant bodies by working closely with staff and departments to support new research and identifying ways of engaging the public in Brunel related studies.
  • Develop and maintain the profiles of the SS Great Britain Trust and the Brunel Institute at a national and international level, and advocate for, strengthen, support and champion the partnership between the University of Bristol and the SS Great Britain Trust at the Brunel Institute and within the University.
  • Lead and develop the new National Brunel Network, supported by the Communities Officer and colleagues in the Marketing and Digital teams, including; building relationships with other museums, heritage organisations and academic institutions with an interest in Brunel and encouraging them to join the National Brunel Network where appropriate; lead the Annual meeting of the National Brunel Network.
  • Work with partners in the National Brunel Network, as well as others, to create an international network of scholars and enthusiasts of Brunel-related maritime, industrial and engineering history.
  • Cultivate and develop national and international contacts to benefit teaching and research. In particular, develop collaborative research projects with institutions in the United States, Australia or other places visited by Brunel’s ships.
  • Some weekend or out of hours working may be required

We are seeking an enthusiastic individual to appoint to the full-time position to work with colleagues in developing study, research and teaching. In March 2018 the new national Brunel Museum is due to open alongside the SS Great Britain.

Person Specification

  • PhD in History or a related discipline, or suitable equivalent.
  • Demonstrable interest in the life, times and impact of I.K. Brunel and his works
  • Teamwork skills and evidence of collaboration with other groups
  • An active and supportive approach to inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research that will help to foster interactions and links with other bodies.
  • Proven ability to organise/manage research projects
  • A track record of publications
  • Proven communications ability with a wide audience
  • Success in gaining funding for research
  • The attitude and ability to engage in continuous professional development 

How to apply


Informal enquiries may be addressed to: Rhian Tritton, Director of Interpretation, Collections and Education. Email:          

The SS Great Britain encourages applications from people of all backgrounds but particularly welcomes applications from candidates from BAME backgrounds as they are under-represented within our organisation.