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Visit the National Railway Museum vast halls of giant locomotives. Escape your home and dive into the past, present and future of the railways. Meet world-changing inventions like Rocket and come face-to-face with the fastest steam locomotive in the world.
Behold the beauty of Stephenson's Rocket, built in 1829 to run on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway—the world's first inter-city passenger railway line.
The name Rocket was chosen by George Stephenson, the ‘Father of Railways’ and of Robert, after he had read an account of military rockets developed by Sir William Congrave in 1805 at the Royal Arsenal Woolwich.
Rocket’s first trials were at Killingworth Colliery, near Newcastle. It was then dismantled for transportation over land to Carlisle and onward by sea to Liverpool where it was put back together ready for the competition.
Rocket took part in the opening celebrations for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway on 15 September 1830. Sadly this occasion was marred by tragedy when the Rt Hon William Huskisson, Member of Parliament for Liverpool, was run down by Rocket , and later died of his injuries, after straying onto the track while talking to Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington.
In 1862 Rocket was donated by its then owners, Brampton Colliery, to the Patent Office Museum in London, that became the Science Museum, and so was saved for the Nation.
"There have been at least nine full size replicas of Rocket, including one commissioned by Henry Ford and now on display in the Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan, USA. But only the National Railway Museum has the original, now on display at York, together with two of the replicas. One is a working locomotive that steams from time to time, while another is partly sectioned to show how the locomotive worked"
Philip Benham, Chairman of the Friends of the NRM
Rub shoulders with railway legends from the past 200 years—from history-makers to record-breakers, Great Hall is home to some awe-inspiring engines.
Jump on board the high-speed Japanese bullet train—the only one of its kind outside of Japan—and learn about travel on the world's fastest passenger rail network. Ignite your imagination with talks and tours from our Explainers, see our impressive turntable in action, and relive Mallard's record-breaking 1938 run in our exhilarating simulator experience.
WHERE IS FLYING SCOTSMAN NOW?
Flying Scotsman is being prepared for its next tours. The NRM have now published an updated list of tour dates—find out about Flying Scotsman's planned trips on the Scotsman on the Tracks page, but please be aware these dates may be subject to change.
FLYING SCOTSMAN: YOUR MOMENTS AND MEMORIES
To mark the centenary of Flying Scotsman in 2023, the NRM are putting together a new exhibition that will capture the human stories behind the legend.
They want to hear from you to help them shape the exhibition.
© Philip Benham
The NRM want to hear your personal stories on what Flying Scotsman means to you that could be included to express its impact and legacy, 100 years on. Your story could be from any background, and particularly welcome special memories you have with the world’s most iconic locomotive in written or photographic form. While Flying Scotsman is a legend in its own right, the NRM is interested in the part it played in your stories, as a main or supporting character, or perhaps the setting for a role or moment you’ll always remember.
Flying Scotsman in 1924
….spot the difference – Flying Scotsman now as an A3 thirty years later in 1957
HOW IT CAME TO THE NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM
Mallard was selected for preservation thanks to the speed record it achieved and to retain an example of a Gresley A4 Pacific locomotive. Following its retirement from British Rail in 1963 it went on display at the Museum of British Transport in Clapham, before coming to the NRM in time for the museums first day of opening in 1975.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Born in 1876, Sir Nigel Gresley was an engineering powerhouse with a long list of achievements in his career. He designed A1 Flying Scotsman, the first locomotive to break 100mph in the UK, while Mallard combined a number of technical innovations—from the streamlined casing to the efficient Kylchap exhaust system—to make it a prime candidate for the steam speed record.