Top Bristol visitor attraction appoints new chief executive

The SS Great Britain Trust – the charity that runs the award-winning museum, visitor attraction and Brunel Institute in Bristol – has announced the appointment of a new chief executive.

Andrew Edwards is set to join the organisation on 3 June.

Previously chief executive of The Sussex Archaeological Society, Canterbury Cathedral Trust, and The National Churches Trust, Andrew has 25 years of senior leadership experience to the role, taking over from interim co-CEOs Angela Spreadbury and Phil Smith.

Andrew, who has experience of delivering large transformative programmes across a wide range of organisations, joins at a time when the SS Great Britain Trust is reshaping the Albion Dockyard Project following an initial development phase.

During this time, the charity has successfully regenerated the working shipyard. As the project moves into fundraising and delivery phase, his experience will be invaluable.

At Canterbury Cathedral Trust, he held a leadership role in the development and delivery of the £35m Canterbury Journey project which included major capital works across the cathedral, creation of a new visitor centre, community studio, shop and free-to-enter viewing gallery. All of this supported by transformative fundraising alongside the development of a long-term commercial strategy for the organisation.

Passionate about heritage as an integral part of local communities, in creating memorable experiences for visitors, and as an agent for social change, Andrew sees a museum’s role as welcoming and engaging with diverse audiences. As well as leading large heritage organisations, he is a trustee at Tenby Museum & Art Gallery and The Creative Dimension Trust and was a mentor for the Changing Lives Campaign at St Marylebone Church in London.

Andrew said: “I am delighted to be joining the SS Great Britain Trust at such an exciting time. Joining a strong team with ambitious plans, we will realise the potential of the Albion Dockyard Project which brings wide-ranging benefits to the West of England region and beyond. I look forward to building on the successful programming and museum experiences which delight and inspire visitors at one of the leading visitor attractions in the southwest.”

The SS Great Britain Trust has also announced the appointment of Louisa Pharoah as development director who joins from the Soil Association where she was director of fundraising. Louisa joins the Trust’s senior management team which comprises Tim Bryan, Director of Brunel Institute together with Angela Spreadbury, Chief Financial Officer – Deputy CEO and Phil Smith, Chief Commercial & Operations Officer – Deputy CEO.

Chair of Trustees, Matthew Jones, said: “The Board of Trustees of the SS Great Britain Trust are delighted to announce the appointment of Andrew Edwards as chief executive. His exceptional leadership skills and deep understanding of the heritage sector make him the ideal leader for the charity as we take forward the Albion Dockyard Project and continue to care for the SS Great Britain and Brunel collections, sharing their stories and expanding community and STEM education engagement across the region.”

The first phase of the Albion Dockyard Project has seen the Grade II listed dry dock and dockyard reopened as a working shipyard, operated by Albion Dock Company, adding their specialist maritime engineering expertise to the operation. A new viewing area allows visitors to discover stories about the dock’s history and current operation. The first phase has also seen the expansion of the Trust’s community engagement programmes including funding for a dedicated community history fellowship and support for community researchers, enabling people from local communities to access museum archives and research the histories of migration which has given the Trust capacity to expand its work with the city.

As the new chief executive, Andrew will build on these successes and set out the way forward as the project’s priorities around enhancing the heritage landscape and expanding the heritage visitor experience are progressed.