The SS Great Britain Trust is extremely grateful to have received £435,998 of crucial funding from Arts Council England, and for the support of our members. It is support that has never been more needed.
The current pandemic has had a huge and devastating impact on the Trust’s financial position, as it has for many charities and organisations. We are privileged to care for one of the Crown Jewels of our Nation’s heritage, for everyone. The SS Great Britain, launched in 1843 and brought back home to Bristol 50 years ago, is of international significance and part of our National Historic Fleet as the World’s first Great Ocean Liner and one of the most innovative ships ever built. However, the care of the ship and nationally important collections, along with education programmes reaching wide-ranging audiences, come at a significant and ongoing cost.
This funding ensures the immediate survival of the Trust. It will help us to move forward to re-open our site to visitors, albeit with limited capacity, so that we can continue to inspire future generations of engineers and entrepreneurs. But the Trust’s income has been hit hard by lockdown. Over 90% of our income comes from visitors, and we will have lost around £2m during March to September. We are very excited to be re-opening, but it will be to far fewer visitors to ensure we keep people safe, which means that we will continue to lose essential income going forward.
The Trust is working hard to provide a warm welcome and a terrific experience when we open our dockyard gates again on 18 July. This funding lifeline is a critical first step, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that we continue to protect for the nation one of the most important ships in the world, seeking vital support from our visitors, supporters and funders, which is needed to care for the SS Great Britain now, as much as it was needed to save her in 1970.