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Recruitment complete for two new roles

The future direction of the conservation of the SS Great Britain and the public’s understanding of the engineer who built her have taken a significant step forward this month.

Two new job roles – the Ship’s Conservation Engineer and the Brunel History Fellow - have been introduced by the SS Great Britain Trust in Bristol and two high calibre candidates appointed.

Chartered Mechanical Engineer, Nicola Grahamslaw, has been appointed as the Ship’s Conservation Engineer. The role, supported by Heritage Lottery Fund through its Catalyst: Endowment programme will see her optimising conservation of the SS Great Britain for the very long term and acting as principle design authority for the ship’s conservation and climate control systems.

With a background in consultancy within the energy industry, Nicola will advise the Trust on energy efficiency and help to educate others regarding conservation engineering and related technologies. She will also help to establish a centre of excellence for large object conservation.

Nicola says: “I’m really excited to be joining the team on such an inspiring project - the design, salvage and conservation of the SS Great Britain are all tremendous technical achievements. I’m looking forward to learning more about how engineering principles can be applied to conservation and exploring opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Trust’s work in this area.”

Also joining the Trust this month is Dr James Boyd as Brunel History Fellow with the Brunel Institute at the SS Great Britain, which houses one of the world’s finest maritime collections and the National Brunel Collection*. This new five-year, fixed term post is part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

In his former role, James’s research at the German National Maritime Museum concerned the evolution of passenger shipping in the 19th century and the ‘shrinking of the Atlantic through technological change’.

As the Brunel History Fellow, James will lead and develop academic and popular research on the life and legacy of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. He will also play a significant role in developing the National Brunel Network that will bring together a wide range of organisations, scholars and enthusiasts of Brunel-related maritime, industrial and engineering history UK-wide and connecting with international networks too.

James says: “Isambard Kingdom Brunel provides a focal point for addressing the origin of technological change in the Atlantic World and the Brunel Institute, in turn, an outstanding environment in which to conduct, disseminate and cultivate that research. I look forward to helping to build the reputation, connectivity and international outreach of the Institute.”

Director and chief executive of the SS Great Britain Trust, Matthew Tanner - who was instrumental in ensuring the successful conservation of the SS Great Britain and its re-launch in 2005 - says: “It is fantastic to welcome on board two such talented individuals who I have no doubt will make their mark on the future of the ship and the Brunel Institute.

“Nicola and James join us at an incredibly exciting time as we prepare to open the doors to Being Brunel, our new museum exploring the life and legacy of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. As an organisation we are continually evolving and these new roles will play a significant part in the Trust’s future – allowing us to increase our skillset, develop new insights and use these to inspire and educate others.”

These new appointments are made during the government’s UK-wide Year of Engineering 2018 campaign, which is supported by the SS Great Britain Trust and aims to tackle the engineering skills gap and widen the pool of young people who join the profession



Picture caption: New appointments at the SS Great Britain Trust: James Boyd, Brunel History Fellow (left) and Nicola Grahamslaw, the Ship’s Conservation Engineer (right) pictured next to the SS Great Britain.


Notes to Editors


About Brunel’s SS Great Britain

Brunel’s SS Great Britain is Bristol’s number one visitor attraction, as voted by the public on Trip Advisor. It is home to the world’s first great ocean liner, the SS Great Britain, and the Brunel Institute, which houses one of the world’s finest maritime collections and the National Brunel Collection*. From Friday 23 March 2018 this attraction will include Being Brunel, a new national museum telling the hero engineer’s extraordinary story through never-before-seen personal possessions, as well as interactive exhibits and audio-visual experiences. For more information visit

The attraction is called ‘Brunel’s SS Great Britain’, the ship is called the ‘SS Great Britain’ and the charity, which cares for her, is the ‘SS Great Britain Trust’. 

*The National Brunel Collection

The National Brunel Collection comprises more than 14,000 objects from the University of Bristol Brunel Collection, the Clive Richards Brunel Collection and the SS Great Britain Trust Collection. In 2014 the collection was recognised as part of the Arts Council England’s Designation Scheme, which was set up in 1997 to 'identify pre-eminent collections of national and international importance held in England’s non-national museums, libraries and archives, based on their quality and significance'.