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Science Museum

Science Museum Group to loan Stephenson’s Rocket to Great Exhibition of the North

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  • World-famous locomotive will be a highlight of the Great Exhibition of the North 2018
  • Rocket, which is usually displayed at the Science Museum, will return to Newcastle for the first time in over 150 years

Today the Science Museum Group announced that it will loan Stephenson’s Rocket, one of Britain’s most iconic feats of engineering, to the Great Exhibition of the North 2018. 

As Newcastle and Gateshead make preparations for the official launch of the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018, the Science Museum Group confirms that the historic locomotive will return to the city in which it was built, for the first time since it was acquired for the nation in 1862. 

Ian Blatchford, Director of the Science Museum Group, said: “Stephenson’s Rocket was a pioneer in locomotive design bringing together human ingenuity and technological innovation to propel steam trains into the heart of the modern industrial economy. With four museums in the North, the Science Museum Group is proud to support the region’s world-famous industrial heritage by bringing Rocket to the Great Exhibition of the North in 2018.” 

Manufactured in 1829 by Robert Stephenson and Company at Newcastle’s Forth Street Works, Rocket won the famous Rainhill Trials in that year to become the fastest locomotive designed up to that point. The Rainhill Trails were held in 1829 by the Liverpool and Manchester Railway to find a new, more efficient form of locomotive. When Rocket’s turn came at the Rainhill Trials it completed the course of 70 miles at an average speed of 13 miles per hour. In their attempt to win the prize of £500 (worth approximately £50,000 today) the Stephensons brought together several innovations with their new locomotive Rocket to improve efficiency and performance. The basic design proved to be ground-breaking and appeared in virtually all subsequent steam locomotive designs. 

Iain Watson, Director at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “Rocket is one of the North’s great innovations, heralding the birth of passenger railways. Welcoming Rocket home as part of Great Exhibition of the North will help us tell the inspiring story of the North of England, including how we’ve shaped today’s world and continue to lead its future. We’re delighted to be working with the Science Museum Group on this exciting addition to Great Exhibition of the North.” Great Exhibition of the North takes place from 22 June to September 2018 across NewcastleGateshead showcasing great art, culture, design and innovation from across the North of England, with exhibition hubs at Great North Museum: Hancock, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead.

Notes to Editors

About the Science Museum Group
The Science Museum Group is made up of five leading science museums, welcoming over five million visitors each year to its sites: the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York; the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford; and Locomotion in Shildon. We share the stories of innovations and people that shaped our world and are transforming the future, constantly reinterpreting our astonishingly diverse collection of 7.3 million items spanning science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine. Standout objects include the record-breaking locomotive Flying Scotsman, Richard Arkwright’s textile machinery, Alan Turing’s Pilot ACE computer and the earliest surviving recording of British television. Our mission is to inspire futures - igniting curiosity among people of all ages and backgrounds. Each year, our museums attract more than 600,000 visits by education groups, while our touring exhibition programme brings our creativity and scholarship to audiences across the globe. More information can be found at group.sciencemuseum.org.uk.

About Great Exhibition of the North
Great Exhibition of the North takes place from 22 June – September 2018 across NewcastleGateshead showcasing the great art, culture, design and innovation from across the North of England. Exhibition hubs at Great North Museum: Hancock, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Sage Gateshead will feed three walking routes, brought to life by performers, visual artists, architects, musicians, scientists, engineers, inventors, writers, creatives, thinkers, designers and digital makers as a result of an open call for ideas which attracted more than 430 submissions from across the whole North in May. Audiences will also be able to interact with the Exhibition virtually, celebrating more of the North’s innovative new technologies. Opening with the spectacular ‘Get North’ weekend on the 22nd June, Great Exhibition of the North finishes in style with the world-famous Great North Run and the powerful ‘Creating the Future’ closing weekend. For more information visit www.GETNorth2018.com.