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By David Rooney on

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.