News release

Date: 11th April 2014

Stannah – climbing to another level on the ss Great Britain

Another first for Bristol’s favourite visitor attraction

South West England and London, 11th April 2014 – Future visitors to Brunel’s ss Great Britain are in for a treat as they are invited to Go Aloft! Visitors can step into the shoes of a Victorian sailor to climb the rigging on the famous steam ship in its dry dock in Bristol, if they are brave enough!

Stannah, lift suppliers to the ss Great Britain Trust and passionate supporters of this unique visitor attraction, sponsored the official launch of Go Aloft! and three Stannah representatives accepted the invitation to climb to another level. Alastair Stannah, Managing Director of Stannah Lifts Ltd and Dan White, Stannah Lift Services South West England and South Wales Branch Manager, were soon up the rigging for a bird’s eye view of Bristol and, following their confident climbs, Karl Hudson, Technical Sales Engineer from the Bristol branch was inspired to follow. He even walked the yardarm in a bid to out-do his bosses!

The launch event for Go Aloft! on 3rd April 2014 was attended by more than 200 supporters and VIPs, opened by The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Faruk Choudhury (who himself went ‘aloft’ before the guests arrived) and celebrated by all who love Brunel’s first steam ship that enjoyed 170 years of adventure and travelled a million miles going around the world 32 times. The evening launch was a circus-themed evening of remarkable performance by Cirque Bijou and Circomedia on the rigging, topped by a tightrope walk between the masts to rapturous applause.
‘Authentic’ seafaring weather (mist and plenty of rain) with accompanying sea shanties reminded the performers and audience of the real life Victorian sailors whose average age was only twenty years, who climbed the rigging daily, with no safety ropes, to sail the ss Great Britain across the world, often losing their lives on the voyage.

The Go Aloft! experience on the ss Great Britain is unique. No other heritage ship in the UK invites visitors to climb the rigging. If you are over 10 years old, more than 1.4m tall, fit to climb and adventurous by nature you can experience what the crew of the ss Great Britain had to do, day in, day out, on high seas in horrendous weather and miles from land – no fun, safety-conscious climb for them! Many died doing their job, their fates occasionally recorded by educated passengers in their voyage diaries.

In 1970 the abandoned shell of the ss Great Britain was salvaged from the Falkland Islands and returned to her original dock at Bristol’s Great Western Dockyard, where her restoration began. Today the ship is fully restored, surrounded by sea-level glass that obscures and protects her dry dock below. A platform lift travels through the glass, taking visitors right into the dock. There are four more Stannah lifts on site that make this ship, its museum and library truly accessible to all visitors.

Dan White, Manager of the South West England and South Wales Stannah Lift Services branch adds:
‘Go Aloft! is a fantastic extension of the already excellent visitor experience. We were certainly vertically challenged but I would recommend the climb – particularly now I’m back on dry land! I’d like to thank my colleagues for supporting this event and in particular my managing director, Jon Stannah and my client, Alan Riddick from the University of Bristol, for joining in the celebrations. We look forward to supporting our products and the ss Great Britain Trust in the years to come.’
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For further editorial information please contact: Angela Breckenridge on 023 8043 3348 or email angela[at][dot]uk

About Brunel’s ss Great Britain:
1. Brunel’s ss Great Britain is the world’s first great ocean liner and the most experimental steam ship of her time. Launched in 1843, this iron-hulled steamship revolutionised travel and set new standards in engineering, reliability and speed. Today, Brunel’s ss Great Britain is Bristol’s no.1 visitor attraction (as voted by the public on Trip Advisor) and home to the Brunel Institute, housing one of the world’s finest maritime and Brunel collections.
2. Please note, for brand continuity, the attraction is ‘Brunel’s ss Great Britain’, the ship herself is the ‘ss Great Britain’, the charity which manages and maintains the ship is the ‘ss Great Britain Trust’ and the trading branch of the charity is ‘ss Great Britain Trading Ltd.’. The ‘ss’ is always written in lower case or small caps; or in a smaller font size when only capitalisation is available.
3. Brunel’s ss Great Britain has won over 30 major awards covering heritage, tourism, conservation, access, education, venue hire and customer service; including:
3* in Michelin Guide to Great Britain, 2012
Rough Guide to Accessible Britain, 2010
England’s Large Visitor Attraction, 2007
UK Museum of the Year 2006


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