Tag Archives: num:ScienceMuseum=1862-5

Last chance to ride the Rocket!

If you’re stuck for something to do this weekend, don’t miss the rare chance to ride a steam train in Hyde Park.

A fully-working reproduction of our 1829 Stephenson’s Rocket is steaming up and down a specially-laid track in Kensington Gardens, just by the Albert Memorial, offering passengers the chance to experience the earliest days of railways.

Engineers installing track for 'Rocket' rides, 26 March 2010 (David Rooney)

The reproduction was built in 1979 and, like today, ran up and down a track in Kensington Gardens. Lots of people I’ve spoken to this Easter have fond memories of the 1979 run…

Reproduction of Stephenson's 'Rocket' being packed away, 1979 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

That was 31 years ago; to put it into perspective, that’s almost exactly how long the original Rocket was in use before going on display in South Kensington in 1862. It’s amazing how much can change in three short decades…

Rocket’s last London ride will be on Sunday afternoon, so if this sounds like your sort of thing, don’t delay. Adults ride for a fiver with children travelling half-price, and everyone gets a souvenir goody-bag.

Then visit the Science Museum nearby (for free) to see the real thing in Making the Modern World.

Stephenson's 'Rocket', 1829 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Our sister museum, the National Railway Museum in York, is in charge of the repro Rocket, and has another replica on show in its Great Hall, made in 1935 by the Robert Stephenson company.

Sectioned replica of Stephenson's 'Rocket', 1935 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Ride the reproduction in Kensington Gardens - then see the original at the Science Museum – then head for the National Railway Museum to see what it looks like inside! It’s a rocket-propelled steam dream this Easter…

Steam train in Kensington Gardens

Exciting news for transport enthusiasts. As part of its Easter events programme, the Science Museum will be offering rides on a full-size working reproduction of its world-famous steam locomotive, Stephenson’s Rocket, on a specially-laid track in Kensington Gardens, near the museum.

Reproduction of Stephenson's 'Rocket', 1979 (NRM / Science & Society)

The original Rocket, built by Robert Stephenson in 1829, is on permanent display in the museum’s Making the Modern World gallery. It marked a turning point in locomotive design:

Stephenson's 'Rocket', 1829 (NRM / Science & Society)

Modifications over its working life dramatically changed Rocket‘s appearance. Nearby is a model as it originally looked:

Model of Stephenson's 'Rocket', 1909 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Michael Bailey and John Glithero’s book on Rocket is superb.

You can also see Puffing Billy, the oldest surviving steam locomotive in the world, built in about 1814 by William Hedley to haul coal from Wylam Colliery to the nearby river:

Hedley's 'Puffing Billy', c.1814 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Also in the gallery are two remarkable models. The first was built by Richard Trevithick in 1797 to test ideas that led to the world’s first steam railway locomotive, which he built in 1804:

Trevithick's test model, 1797 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

The second model, on the gallery’s upper walkway, was built in 1812 by Puffing Billy‘s William Hedley to test the adhesion of smooth wheels on rails:

Hedley's adhesion model, 1812 (NRM / Science & Society)

Our reproduction Rocket rides will be running daily from 31 March to 18 April. Adult tickets cost a fiver, with kids going half-price. Everyone gets a souvenir goody bag, and admission to the museum itself to see the historic machines is free.