New Interpretation appointments

03 April 2023


03 April 2023


New appointments at Brunel’s SS Great Britain to deliver even more immersive experiences and living history.

The SS Great Britain Trust – that runs the multi award-winning museum and visitor attraction in Bristol – has ambitious plans to invest further in living history and innovative interpretation with new appointments and staff moves. 

Already known as one of the UK’s top ten museums (TripAdvisor 2022), visitors consistently praise the immersive and unique experiences that bring the world’s first great ocean liner to life and reveal the many global passenger stories. 


Iona Keen joins the SS Great Britain Trust as Head of Interpretation.

Iona’s wide-ranging experience in heritage interpretationworking with English Heritage, Bath Preservation Trust, the National Gallery, Salisbury Cathedral, the V&A and the British Museum will help the Trust develop its trademark multi-sensory visitor experiences and programming, bringing global passenger stories to life for new audiences. Iona is Vice-Chair of the SWFed (South West Federation of Museums and Art Galleries) and a Critical Friend to the AHI (Association for Heritage Interpretation). She brings with her a strong network across the sector in Bristol, the South West and beyond.

Iona Keen said:I am thrilled to be joining the Trust at such an exciting time. I firmly believe in the importance of authentic storytelling with contemporary relevance, and I’m very much looking forward to building on the fantastic work to engage and inspire our visitors through memorable and, most of all fun, learning experiences. The potential to attract and sustain new audiences, both locally and from further afield, is also something that I am excited about exploring.


Simon Strain takes on the newly created position of Head of Living History.

Having worked at the Trust for twelve years, Simon’s promotion to this exciting role will see him lead the expansion of costumed interpretation, developing the first maritime living museum in the UK. As part of the development, there are ground-breaking plans to launch a degree level student placement in living history at the Bristol Institute of Performing Arts, part of South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, as well as partnerships with improvisation theatres and other arts organisations. This strand of work is supported by National Portfolio funding from Arts Council England as part of the Trust’s audience development initiatives. 

Simon Strain commented: Our existing line-up of costumed roles are massively popular, providing memorable encounters for visitors of all ages, really bringing history to life. Exciting future plans take Brunel’s SS Great Britain on a journey to become the UK’s first historic ship and dockyard with a permanent live costumed presence. The new creative and education partnerships we’ll be forming are equally exciting, building skills and expertise and involving new audiences.” 

Brunel’s SS Great Britain already offers visitors the chance to climb into 1850s bunks, encountering Victorian sights, sounds and smells as they explore the ship. There is even the opportunity to climb the rigging with qualified instructors guiding brave participants out along the main yard.  


Dr Kate Rambridge moves to a new position of Head of Albion Dockyard Interpretation

A role that is set to shape and plan the conservation and development of this major capital project. The SS Great Britain Trust has embarked upon an ambitious project to save the dockyard located next door to the SS Great Britain. The working shipyard will be reopened, while a full-scale reconstruction of Brunel’s first paddle steamer, the PS Great Western, will enable 21st century interpretation to bring new stories of global travel to life.

Kate Rambridge said:Albion Dock has a 200-year history and represents a living tradition of ship building in Bristol. It also gives us space to grow the way we tell stories with and for our audiences – from open days for Bristol residents to astonishing virtual adventures. We want to invite our communities and global audiences into a history that reveals opportunities and connections for everyone, from every background. 

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Albion Dock viewing area


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