Stephenson’s Rocket has returned to Manchester for the first time in over 180 years.
Rocket was built to run on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the world’s first inter-city passenger railway line. In 1829, Rocket won the Rainhill Trials, which was a competition to decide on the best mode of transport for the railway.
Rocket was the only locomotive to successfully complete the trials, averaging 12 mph and achieving a top speed of 30 mph.
Designed by Robert Stephenson, Rocket’s win proved once and for all that locomotives were better at pulling trains along the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, rather than stationary winding engines.
The technology applied to the design of Rocket was soon extended across the entire railway network, paving the way for the modern rail network and shaping the course of the history.
This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to see an iconic symbol return to the site of the world’s oldest surviving passenger railway, the terminus of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway which is now home to the museum.
Before you come and see Rocket in the flesh (or, more accurately, in the steel, brass and iron), find out more about this legendary locomotive with our 3D model below.
Time: Daily at 11.00, 11.30, 12.00, 13.00, 13.30 and 14.00
(Saturday 16 – Sunday 24 February: 11.00, 12.00, 12.30, 13.00 and 14.00)
Join us for an interactive talk and steam into the past to learn all about the historic Rocket locomotive.
Find out how a steam train works, how the first inter-city railway made history right here in Manchester and how Rocket changed our world and the way we travel forever!
Our Rocket Explainer talks can also be booked by school groups.
Rocket on the museum blog
Rocket's engineering excellence
Michael Bailey, author of Rocket: A history of a pioneering locomotive, talks about the engineering that set Rocket apart from its rivals.
How Rocket got its name
To celebrate the 189th anniversary of the Rainhill Trials, let’s take a look at how the names of the engines captured the spirit of the era, and how what you call something continues to shape how we think of the past and the future.
Rocket memorabilia in our collection
Like all great events, there was a range of merchandise to commemorate Rocket's triumph at the Rainhill Trials. Here's a selection of our favourite memorabilia from our collection...