Staff and contractors are working full steam ahead at Discovery Museum in Newcastle to welcome a series of ground-breaking exhibits and temporary displays, including Robert Stephenson’s iconic steam locomotive Rocket, as one of the headline venues on the Get North Innovation Trail, running from 22 June – 9 September as part of Great Exhibition of the North.

Free tickets are now available to book online to provide thousands of visitors time slots to get up-close to one of Britain’s (if not the world’s) most famous feats of engineering, that was made right here in Newcastle.Manufactured in 1829 behind what is now Central Station, at the Robert Stephenson & Co. locomotive works,families and train fans a-like will see Rocket back in its birth-place for the first time, since it was presented to the nation 156 years ago.

It’s Rocket Science, which features the historic engine, on loan from Science Museum Group, and accompanying exhibition funded by the National Lottery, will showcase the train’s pioneering designits rise to fame and its undisputed legacy, including its role in the birth of passenger railways and Robert Stephenson’s contribution to the North of England’s global reputation as a powerhouse of ingenuity and expertise.

Carolyn Ball, Manager of Discovery Museum, said: “It’s been no mean feat to bring Rocket home to the North East for this much-anticipated event. It’s required intensive planning with specialist contractors and partners who we’re eternally grateful to, for helping us realise this dream. A special thanks must also go to the Science Museum Group for their generosity and support and to National Lottery players, through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)who provided a grant of £813,100 to help us tell the North of England’s inspiring story – past, present and future.”

Ivor Crowther, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, the Rocket is returning home to be a key part of our celebration of the North of England’s history and future. We’re delighted to be supporting the Great Exhibition of the North which is an unrivalled opportunity to shine the spotlight on the North’s proud and unique story for millions of visitors this year.”

To complement the exhibition, people can choose to be transported back to the 1800s via virtual reality to experience the sight and sound of the early steam age as Stephenson’s Rocket is digitally brought back to life courtesy of Technology consultancy, Hedgehog Lab.

Home to many world firsts, Discovery Museum aims to ignite the curiosity and creativity of young minds. This fits perfectly with their role as host of the Little Inventors North 2030 Challenge throughout the Great Exhibition. Wearside artist and designer Dominic Wilcox, of Little Inventors, put a callout back in March inviting young people aged 5 to 12, from across the North, to submit invention ideas that imagine what life could be like in the North in 2030, thinking of all the challenges and opportunities that the future brings. All submissions could win a chance to have their ideas brought to life by professional designers, artists and makers and exhibited alongside inventions imaged by children across the world, during the Great Exhibition.

Little Inventors are planning a summer takeover of Discovery Museum’s PLAY+INVENT Space installing a gallery of some of the best entries and the winning inventions that have been made into prototypes. Expect the ingenious to the outrageously wacky. There will also be hands-on making activities happening within the space all summer, so young visitors are encouraged to bring their thinking caps.

Dominic Wilcox, Chief Inventor at Little Inventors said: We’ve had some brilliant invention ideas from children across the north. Their ideas for the year 2030 are inspiring and thought provoking, from ideas to help people and make life more enjoyable to the brilliantly bonkers. It will be an exhibition that shows how exciting the future of the north can be in the hands of our regions young inventive minds.”


Discovery Museum will be closed to visitors at key times during the installation of exhibits and galleries. These dates are currently 11, 12, 13, 20, 21 & the morning of 22 June. Great Exhibition of the North will launch at 1pm on 22 June.

It’s Rocket Science is a ticketed free event, which includes entry to the premium viewing area and exhibition. During the opening weekend (Friday 22 – Sunday 24 June) visitors must have a ticket to enter the museum. From Monday 25 June all visitors are welcome, but only ticket holders will get premium access to Stephenson’s Rocket.

Throughout Great Exhibition of the North the museum will be operating longer opening hours from 10am – 6pm seven days a week, to ensure as many visitors as possible can experience the temporary exhibits and galleries. For the latest information and to book tickets for It’s Rocket Science visit

Hosted in NewcastleGateshead, on behalf of Northern England, Great Exhibition of the North will be the biggest event in England this year. It is free to attend and will tell the inspiring story of the North of England and how its innovators, businesses, artists and designers have shaped our present and are inspiring our future. Visitors will begin their journey at one of three iconic venues – Great North Museum, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art or Sage Gateshead – before joining three trails through world-class venues and public spaces.

For more information on Great Exhibition of the North please visit: