Wednesday, May 28th 2003 - 21:00 UTC

Unique ship painting from Falkland's donor

A unique painting of Brunel's famous liner, the ss Great Britain, has been donated by a woman who was brought up in the Falkland Islands, Mrs Margaret Wilson. It is believed to be the only painting in existence showing the vessel in her final configuration as a three-masted “wind-jammer”.

The ss Great Britain Trust set up to preserve the vessel in dock in Bristol after its return from the Falkland Islands, has expressed its gratitude for the gift, for which another donor has provided a special frame.

Mrs Wilson told the Trust she recalls going aboard the wreck at the age of eight in 1919 when it was being used as a wool store in Stanley Harbour.

In advance of 160th anniversary celebrations later this year of the liner's launch, the Trust has renewed its appeal for any original material from the ship, some of which has previously been donated by Falkland Islanders. The Trust says it would give a good home to objects such as letter from a passenger, a piece of furniture, a tool or book carried on the ship. There is a thriving trade by private collectors in objects relating to the ship.

The Trust has announced the largest ever pledge of a private donation to the fund-raising "Anchor Campaign" -- £100,000 (about 160,000 dollars) over the next five years from the Society of Merchant Ventures.

This brings the total so far to £8,600,000 (about 13 million dollars) in gifts and pledges. Every one pound of private donations releases four pounds from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, recognising the ss Great Britain as a unique and lasting legacy of Brunel's engineering genius and achievements.

Falklands Benefactor granted freedom of Bristol

The ss Great Britain was the venue for a reception to mark the granting of the freedom of Bristol to Sir Jack Hayward, the renowned British patriot and generous benefactor to the Falkland Islands, who has been greatly involved in the preservation and repatriation of the liner from the Falkland Islands.

Among the guests was Sir Rex Hunt, chairman of the Falkland Islands Association, of which Sir Jack is a Vice-President.

Sir Jack and Sir Rex and other guests were able to see the impressive progress in the campaign to preserve Isambard Brunel's great liner in what has become possibly the largest conservation project in Europe. The multi-million pound campaign involves pioneering iron-saving technology, sealing her from humidity, to halt corrosion to the 160-year-old vessel, which was launched in Bristol.

New exhibition and Education Officer

A landmark has been reached with the opening in April of a new exhibition, entitled Extreme Iron Science and the future of Brunel's steamship. Inter-active exhibits are on display telling the remarkable story of the ship and the conservation plans. The Duke of York, Patron of the ss Great Britain Trust, has shown great interest, visiting the ship and the exhibition.

It is a popular attraction for school visits, and the Trust has appointed an Education Officer, who is an experienced English teacher, Hannah Flemming.

The 150th anniversary of the ship's first arrival in Australian waters has been celebrated in Sydney and Melbourne, attracting descendants of passengers who travelled in the ss Great Britain.

Harold Briley, (MP) London

No comments for this story

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!