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Brunel’s personal possessions to inspire the nation

Brunel_last_cigar_Adam Gasson

Over 700 artefacts related to the hero engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel are now in the Brunel Institute at Brunel’s ss Great Britain, as part of the major plans for a brand new museum and visitor experience to be called ‘Being Brunel’.

The objects form the Clive Richards Brunel Collection and their huge range includes IKB’s school reports that give a glimpse into his early life, his personalised pen knife and his famous cigar case, containing his ‘last’ cigar, all of which have never been on public display before.

‘Being Brunel’ will centre around an exciting new public museum and visitor experience that will open up the life and times of this national treasure, and give unprecedented access to amazing objects from the national Brunel Collection of over 14,000 items; (comprising the University of Bristol Brunel Collection, the Clive Richards Brunel Collection and the ss Great Britain Trust Collection), all of which are currently in the Brunel Institute at Brunel’s ss Great Britain.

Clive Richards said; “I have always admired the work that the ss Great Britain Trust does to conserve the ss Great Britain and protect Brunel’s legacy. ’Being Brunel’ will secure the Brunel Collections for the whole nation and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

ss Great Britain Trust Chief Executive Matthew Tanner said: “’Being Brunel’ will engage people of all ages  by looking into  the mind of a genius who was also a very human and interesting person.

“Clive Richards’ magnificent Brunel Collection is particularly rich in telling the human side of the Brunel story , and will inspire visitors to understand him, and be excited by what he achieved, and perhaps what they themselves might be able to achieve too.”

The new museum will include lots of interactive displays, and fascinating experiences, including  walking into Brunel’s brain, and going back in time to visit the restored  Grade II* listed ‘Brunel’ Drawing Office It is October 1840, and Brunel and his team are fighting to turn the ss Great Britain into one of the most ground-breaking ships ever built. We know they succeeded, but they don’t yet....

The total cost to deliver the ‘Being Brunel’ project is £7.26m. The Trust has raised £350,000 towards this target and the Heritage Lottery Fund has indicated its support by awarding a Round 1 pass and ‘in principle’ agreement of £4.75m. In addition Clive and Sylvia Richards have pledged £500,000 as well as the Brunel Collection, and the ss Great Britain Trust is actively fundraising to secure the remaining £1.4m required to realise this unique project.

 ‘Being Brunel’ is expected to open to the public in 2016.

For more information, images or quotes please contact PR, Content and Social Media Manager Jess Hellens on 0117 926 0680 ext 309 or email

Photo: Brunel's last cigar. Adam Gasson.