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New national Brunel museum fully funded

The ss Great Britain at night

Being Brunel: the national Brunel museum project at the ss Great Britain is now fully funded thanks to an important Government grant.

The £620,000 investment was announced in the 2016 budget and will support tourism and cultural activity in the South West.

The centrepiece of Being Brunel will be a new museum and visitor experience that will become the national centre of expertise in the life and works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel when it opens in early 2018.

The new museum – an addition to the existing top-rated attraction at Brunel’s ss Great Britain – is expected to provide a huge boost to tourism in Bristol, where it already brings in around £9million of economic benefit into the city each year, and supports some 180 jobs.

Matthew Tanner, Chief Executive of the ss Great Britain Trust, said: “We are delighted with the news of funding and the national recognition for this important project. It is a fantastic boost for cultural tourism in the South West, with the new museum anticipated to drive an additional £1million plus each year into Bristol’s economy, following its opening in early 2018.  Thank you to everyone who has supported this project.”

Sally Balcombe, Chief Executive of VisitBritain and VisitEngland, said: “Britain’s heritage is a major draw for international visitors, with Brunel’s ss Great Britain already an iconic attraction. The addition of a new national museum celebrating one of the country’s greatest ever engineers will continue to put Bristol on the map globally, be a real boost for British tourism and, by driving more visitors to the region, a boost for the local economy.”

The ss Great Britain Trust cares for an extensive collection of artefacts including some of Brunel’s personal possessions and documents that will be put on display to the public for the first time. The national collection (combining over 14,000 items from the University of Bristol Brunel Collection, the Clive Richards Brunel Collection and the ss Great Britain Trust Collection) has been awarded Designated Status by Arts Council England. Being Brunel will secure the Brunel Collections for the nation, providing even greater visitor experiences at Brunel’s ss Great Britain, and inspiring future generations of engineers, inventors and innovators.

The £7.26million Being Brunel project has also received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as individuals, trusts, and businesses which have become members of The Being Brunel Corporate Club.

More information about Being Brunel: the national Brunel project is available online at



For more information and images, and to set up interviews, please contact:

Dominic Rowe, Communications Officer, tel. 0117 926 0680 ext 219; email

Paul Chibeba, Head of Marketing, tel. 0117 926 0680 ext 309; email


Editor’s notes

About Brunel’s ss Great Britain:

  1. Brunel’s ss Great Britain is the world’s first great ocean liner and the most innovative steam ship of her time. Launched in 1843, this iron-hulled steam ship revolutionised travel and set new standards in engineering, reliability and speed. Today, Brunel’s ss Great Britain is Bristol’s no.1 visitor attraction (as voted by the public on Trip Advisor) and home to the Brunel Institute, housing one of the world’s finest maritime and Brunel collections.
  2. Please note, the attraction is ‘Brunel’s ss Great Britain’, the ship herself is the ‘ss Great Britain’, the charity which manages and maintains the ship is the ‘ss Great Britain Trust’ and the trading branch of the charity is ‘ss Great Britain Trading Ltd.’. The ‘ss’ is always written in lower case or small caps; or in a smaller font size when only capitalisation is available.
  3. Brunel’s ss Great Britain has won over 30 major awards covering heritage, tourism, conservation, access, education, venue hire and customer service; including:
  • 3* in Michelin Guide to Great Britain, 2012
  • Rough Guide to Accessible Britain, 2010
  • England’s Large Visitor Attraction of the Year, 2007
  • UK Museum of the Year 2006