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By David Rooney on

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…