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Stephenson’s Rocket celebrates homecoming

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Iconic steam locomotive Stephenson’s Rocket is to sit at the centre of the Railway Museum’s collection of historic rail vehicles as it prepares for a long-term stay in the North of England.

Rocket is currently on display in Newcastle for the Great Exhibition of the North.

Designed by engineer Robert Stephenson, Rocket was built in Newcastle in 1829; it is the first time the famous locomotive has been in the city for 150 years.

The arrival of Stephenson’s Rocket at the Discovery Museum has seen visitor numbers increase by 100 per cent over the same period last year.

Although Rocket wasn’t Britain’s first steam locomotive, it was the winning design at the locomotive trials at Rainhill in 1829 which decided the design for the Liverpool to Manchester railway.

Rocket will next go on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester in September before travelling to York.

Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Stephenson’s Rocket is an iconic part of Britain’s proud railway history and it is fantastic news that it will remain on long-term display in the North.

“It is right that our great art and culture reaches all parts of the country. This bold move by The Science Museum Group will ensure more people can see this national treasure and is an inspiring example of what can be done to make culture available to the widest possible audience.”

Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum Group, added: “The Science Museum Group is a truly national organisation, and enthusiastic about bringing the world’s greatest science and technology collection to everyone.

“I warmly endorse the Secretary of State’s commitment to strengthening fair and excellent cultural provision across the UK. A country with such an amazing history of innovation deserves it.”

Carol Bell, executive director of Great Exhibition of the North, said: “We’re delighted that through Great Exhibition of the North we’ve been able to welcome back Stephenson’s Rocket to NewcastleGateshead, for the first time in more than 150 years. It’s helped us to tell the inspiring story of the North of England and thanks to attractions such as Stephenson’s Rocket, Discovery Museum has seen visitor numbers rise by 100 per cent over the past four weeks, comparable to 2017.

She added: “We hope more and more people will come and embrace the opportunity to experience the wonder of Stephenson’s Rocket whilst it’s based here in Newcastle for the duration of Great Exhibition of the North.”

Photo: Discovery Museum.

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