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‘If at first you don’t succeed? Try again’!

Isambard Kingdom Brunel believed in his ideas even if everyone else around him thought them a little ambitious and if one door closed he would try another. Maybe this is where radio producer Joanne Schofield found inspiration for her project to celebrate the great British engineer’s life, work and times in the form of a radio broadcast called B200fm.

Although unsuccessful in applying for funding from Brunel 200, Joanne was so inspired by the reaction and support she received whilst researching and planning the project, she decided to proceed with it anyway and applied for funding from other sources. It wasn’t long before other funders were falling over themselves to offer support. First on board was Quartet Community Foundation followed by Creative Partnerships and bringing up the rear, in no small part, was the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Hard to imagine, a radio station in Brunel’s time. What would it say? What music would it play? Who would have been involved? What was life like?

Planning the project, Joanne said, “You’ll get a glimpse of science and engineering of the future from those who are going to make it – the children of today”.

Brunel would have started his day with porridge, kedgeree, devilled kidneys and a copy of the Times. He wouldn’t have had cornflakes or instant coffee and he certainly wouldn’t have turned on the radio. But that changed when B200fm, the first Victorian radio station, took to the airwaves in March 2006. True, it was a little late but for two weeks in 2006 every time you switched on your radio it was like living with Brunel!

B200 fm - Broadcasting from the ss Great Britain.

B200 fm - Broadcasting from the ss Great Britain.

Daily bulletins brought you the latest news on events such as the launch of the ss Great Britain, the completion of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Great Western Railway. Soap fan? Forget the Archers! The daily Victorian Sagas had you gripped while period dramas and music brought people of the nineteenth century to life. And if you ever wondered what a real Victorian radio station would have looked like then visiting the studios of B200fm was the place to be. A visit to the studio was made complete with top hats, bustles and whalebone corsets. This proved to be very popular with school groups, including Hannah More Primary School, Two Mile Hill School and Stoke Bishop Primary.

It wasn’t all history and to add a twist you were transported to the 21st century to support the Brunel 200 celebrations in Bristol. B200fm broadcast full details of the Brunel 200 celebrations all across the South West plus traffic bulletins and any last minute changes of plan.

By the time the project was complete, over 300 people from the South West of all ages, nationalities and cultures had worked on this project and made themselves a part of this unique historical event.

If you missed the live broadcast, B200fm has taken advantage of modern day technology and most of the shows are available to listen to on the internet along with a photographic history of the project.

Visit for a little escapism!