Awards for project to save Brunel ship

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The Independent Online

The long campaign to renovate the SS Great Britain, Isambard Kingdom Brunel's great iron ship, has been rewarded with a brace of wins at the 2006 Museums and Heritage Awards.

The major restoration project to save the steamship, which was towed back to her original dry dock in Bristol from the Falklands 36 years ago, beat competition from rivals including the Churchill Museum in London to be named best permanent exhibition and best restoration/conservation project of the year.

After accepting the awards at a ceremony in London, presented in association with The Independent, Matthew Tanner, director of the SS Great Britain Trust, said it was a major honour. "To be judged by our peers as being the best museum in the land for the work done here to conserve the ship and provide an enthralling visitor experience is a magnificent reward," he said.

The trust, which was backed by £9.1m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, was forced to come up with an innovative glass "sea" at the ship's waterline to create an airtight chamber around the hull and prevent further deterioration. The Natural History Museum was voted by Independent readers as the country's favourite visitor attraction.

The National Trust's exhibition on its Stourhead estate in Wiltshire was named best temporary exhibition and the restoration of a 19th-century cotton mill, Gibson Mill, in Yorkshire was honoured for its use of technology.

A photograph of actors by Simon Annand at the Theatre Museum in London was the best project on a limited budget while the introduction of audioguides in Mandarin at the Roman Baths, in Bath, won the marketing campaign prize for the Bath and North East Somerset Council.

A programme to teach young people about the consequences of committing a crime set up by the National Centre for Citizenship and the Law, based in Nottingham, was the best educational initiative.