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The Brunel Museum receives lifeline grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund

Press Release:
The Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe has been awarded £180,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

The Brunel Museum is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England.

The Brunel Museum was established in 1975  and is a small community-based museum which tells the world famous story of Marc Brunel’s 1843 Thames Tunnel. The Engine House, housing its Accredited Museum, is a Scheduled Monument and the Tunnel Shaft is Grade II* listed. The site and its achievements are considered to be of international significance.

The Museum is a hub for the local community and its popularity and lively following is the culmination of a steady growth since 2015.  Tourists from far and wide have helped boost the economy encouraging spend in the locality but, with the onset of the COVID19 pandemic in March, income dried up overnight. Trustees and staff rallied in the ensuing months and a COVID19  safe Museum re opened in early August with the help of grants, a hard working group of volunteers and helpful local stakeholders and supporters. Since then the Museum has been intent on planning carefully and realistically for the year ahead to build on all it has achieved.

With the vital support of the Culture Recovery Fund it believes it can realise its vision, implementing:  new projects to generate regular income for a sustainable museum, projects that will make the Museum more accessible remotely and, through recent consultation, introduce less traditional activities that will attract different age groups and a more diverse following.


Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.”

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.” 

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:

“Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”

The Brunel Museum Chair, Dana Skelley OBE, said:  

“The Culture Recovery grant will be a massive help to us: the Brunel Museum showcases ingenuity and innovation and it illustrates the ground breaking (both literally and metaphorically) work of engineers and gives inspiration to people of all ages, backgrounds and interests. The Museum’s aim, with the help of a £180,000 grant, is to entertain as well as educate, and bring new audiences, as well as enthusiasts, to a greater understanding of the Brunels as daring engineers with radical solutions.”

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of several bodies administering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund and unprecedented support package of £1.57 billion for the culture and heritage sector. Find out more at


About The Brunel Museum

The Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe is a place of international significance. It is the site of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel’s most brilliant achievement, the Thames Tunnel, first described in 1843 by The Illustrated London News as ‘The Eighth Wonder Of The World’. An engineering breakthrough, Marc Brunel’s scheme to create the first bored tunnel under any river in the world became the blueprint for tunnelling today – from the Channel Tunnel to Crossrail.

The Arts Council-Accredited Brunel Museum was established in 1975 and normally receives around 35,000 visitors annually.  It is open seven days a week from Midday  – 5pm with late openings for special events. Entry to the Museum is £6 with various concessionary rates in operation. The Museum is self funding and income derives from – admission fees, shop sales, tickets for special events, heritage river trips, venue hire. Learning is a core activity at the Museum with a range of in house designed formal and informal learning programmes

serving around 100 schools. Heritage walks leading to a tour of the Museum and Tunnel Shaft are offered most days. The converted Tunnel Shaft and its atmospheric roof garden hosts popular music, concerts, film nights, family cabaret nights and theatre.

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