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Brunel Museum says goodbye to two longstanding trustees

‘We are sorry to report that two of our longest standing Trustees, Jane Stancliffe and Andrew McManus, are leaving us in May.  We would like to thank them both for their contribution to the Board, and briefly celebrate the achievements during this time.


Jane and Andrew both joined the board of trustees in 2016, and brought a diversity of skills to the Board which bolstered the strength of the museum. Whilst Andrew came to be a Trustee due to being a local resident and long-standing supporter of the museum, Jane came to the museum as a passionate admirer of both Marc and Isambard Brunel, and she came with engineering credentials as both her father and grandfather were eminent engineers in the Lake District, where she was born.


Jane’s substantial experience in museums and historic buildings during 19 years at the National Lottery Heritage Fund proved very useful – a milestone came for the Museum in late 2017 when Jane discovered a collection of 29 original Brunel Thames Tunnel watercolour designs being sold at auction. Once the Board had decided to try and acquire them, she raised the funds that enabled the collection to be purchased.  It was an exciting moment for the Board and it was the catalyst to change on the Brunel Museum site as it became the Board’s vision to give the Museum a makeover worthy of such a pre-eminent collection and something to attract wider audiences.


It led to the Board’s successful bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund in June 2019 when the Museum was awarded a Round One Pass of £1.6m including a development grant of £200,000.  As Chair of the Project Steering Committee, Jane has led the Heritage Fund project through two tumultuous years with a scheme that is currently out for Planning.


In 2018/19 Jane oversaw the fundraising and acquisition of 2 important photographic prints by Robert Howlett: the first featuring Isambard Kingdom Brunel seen at the attempted launch of SS Great Eastern, thought to be the third attempt, in November 1857, at the Millwall Ironworks and Napier Yard, Isle of Dogs on the Thames. Next came the acquisition from a private collector of another photographic print, again featuring Isambard Kingdom Brunel –  taken during the final stages of the building of SS Great Eastern in 1857:  Brunel is seen standing in front of the giant chains used to control the imminent (sideways) launch of the ship, today an iconic image known throughout the world.


Jane’s applications for emergency grants during the COVID pandemic has seen the museum through the darkest of times and we can now see a time when we reopen the museum to visitors again. A legacy will be left by Jane’s contributions to the museum’s successes long after her tenure.


Andrew was always available to deal with important day to day museum running from cashing the takings to responding to the alarms.  He contributed to the Board his wealth of experience in HR best practice and in organisational governance.


Both Andrew and Jane brought motivation and advice to do the right thing by and for the museum to survive over the Covid period.


As we reach the end of the development phase of the National Lottery Heritage Project both Jane and Andrew are leaving with our best wishes, and I know that they will both continue to support the museum from the sidelines.


Dana Skelley, Chair of the Board of Trustees 


With two such important trustees leaving us we are exploring what skills and attributes the Board needs to continue to foster diversity and sustainability and will be recruiting in June. Check back for further details.

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