Brunel’s SS Great Britain wins prestigious sustainability award

11 May 2023


11 May 2023


The SS Great Britain Trust were thrilled to be awarded Sustainable Project of the Year at the Museums + Heritage Awards. The ship’s conservation engineer Nicola Grahamslaw attended the ceremony. --- Image Credit: Hayley Bray Photography

On 10th May 2023 Brunel’s SS Great Britain won Sustainable Project of the Year at the Museums + Heritage Awards.


The ceremony, held annually in London to celebrate excellence in the heritage sector, saw 20 museums from across the country winning awards. The SS Great Britain Trust’s entry ‘Voyage to Carbon Neutral’ won in the Sustainable Project of the Year category which was supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.


The pioneering SS Great Britain was built by engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and launched in 1843 as the world’s first great ocean liner – the first ship to combine a metal hull and screw propulsion. In 2023, our modern-day engineers continue to push boundaries to conserve the ship‘s fragile hull in a climate conscious way.


The problem:

Over 100 years at sea took a toll on the SS Great Britain’s metal hull. Over time, salt water soaked into the iron. The salt increased the rate of corrosion in the metal and has led to rapid rusting.

The solution:

To reduce the speed of rusting, two bespoke desiccant dehumidifiers were fitted – one inside (Deep Thought I) and one outside (Deep Thought II) the ship’s hull. The conservation environment conserves the hull, sealed from the outside air by the glass sea. However, this created another challenge as the SS Great Britain Trust aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, with the system being a carbon contributor.

The future:

The ship’s conservation engineer Nicola Grahamslaw has employed new systems to make the dehumidifiers more energy efficient and has already rapidly reduced the amount of carbon emissions emitted. These energy saving upgrades help us to continue to conserve our heritage for future generations whilst protecting our planet.


Nicola Grahamslaw attended the award ceremony and commented:

“It’s a massive boost for the Trust to receive this national sustainability award, and I’m honoured to be part of the team leading our reduction in carbon emissions and journey to becoming carbon neutral. As a charity that inspires the next generation of engineers and helps to address barriers into STEM careers, winning this award for our own conservation engineering and sustainability work is fantastic.”


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