Friends of the National Railway Museum
South of England Group



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Stephenson's Rocket: Working Model and Information Handouts
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  A centre-piece of our information / promotion / sales stand at exhibitions, and one which attracts both members of the public and the model railway fraternity, is our small operating OO model of Stephenson’s Rocket locomotive in both its original (Liverpool and Manchester Railway Rainhill Trials) form and its rebuilt (Lord Carlisle’s Railway) form. There is also a static model depicting the current remains, as on show at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

The children love it, especially those who watch the latest TV version of ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’, where it goes by the name of ‘Stephen’. Their eyes light up, and we often see a child pull their parents back to watch it move. To accompany the display we provide older children with a free information sheet, telling the story of the locomotive, its history and brief details of the early railways, useful for school projects. There are two versions: a version for younger children which is suitable for colouring and also includes information suitable for Key Stages 1 and 2 projects; and another one for older children with a more detailed diagram and extended history suitable for Key Stages 3 and 4. A copy of the handouts can be obtained by printing the PDF file below (pages 1-2 for the younger version or pages 3-4 for the older one).

We hope that, after our subsequent chat about the history of Rocket, and provision of literature to them and their parents, we encourage a visit to the NRM’s sites at York or Shildon. While the chat might not result in any sales, these exchanges are essential to achieve our and the NRM’s educational objectives, maintain interest in railways, and ensure there is a flow of new blood into both the industry and our hobby.

The less-young members of the audience are attracted to the display for another reason. Most railway modellers of a certain age will remember the Hornby OO model of Rocket and, at first glance, this is what many think they are watching. However, closer inspection shows that the model doesn’t suffer from the oversized boiler and firebox of that model and, from behind the stand, we then start to see the eyebrows wrinkle. On being told it is actually a Dapol (ex-Kitmaster/Airfix) plastic kit, then the questions begin to fly. The obvious one is, ‘where’s the motor?’ Guesses follow: in the boiler? in the tender? in the coach? The solution is: not in the model but the track. Close inspection of the front rail will, if you are tall enough and blessed with 20/20 eyesight, show a thin, transparent cable just behind the railhead. The operating models use a magnet-drive rather than a normal electric motor. A full description of its operation is included in Model Railway Express e-magazine, issue 10, June 2018 starting on page 28, available online at this link

The Dapol kit is normally available for sale on our stand.
pdf Click the icon to read the document.