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By Nancy Hopkins on

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...

Please note: Stephenson’s Rocket is no longer on display at the Science and Industry Museum. To find out what exhibitions and activities are open today, visit our What’s On section

Side view of Stephenson’s Rocket

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.

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. The technology applied to the design of Rocket was soon extended across the entire railway network.

The future face of the railways, 1830s style

Take a peek below at the commemorative Rocket items in our collection, as we prepare to welcome Rocket back to Manchester.


Rocket has been down at the Science Museum since 1862, when it was donated to the then Patent Office Museum. Rocket was undoubtedly one of the most popular attractions at the Science Museum, as this marketing poster from 1922 shows.

In June 2018, Rocket moved up to Newcastle to star at the Great Exhibition of the North, and once Rocket has left Manchester it will go on permanent display at the National Railway Museum in York.

Marketing teams have been putting pictures of locomotives on posters since time immemorial



This detailed blue and gold jug has a lovely image of Rocket zipping through the countryside in full steam, and was made approx. 1885. We don’t hold a huge amount of information on this object, but it’s in surprisingly good condition.

We can only assume it took pride of place in someone’s china cabinet and was only for decorative purposes, or occasional use.

More tea, vicar?



This tile was produced in 1980 in Leatherhead, as part of a series of tiles that marked the 150th anniversary of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Tiles for Sanspareil and Novelty were also produced.

Do any of our readers also have a set of the commemorative tiles?

Decorative Rocket tile



We don’t have any information about this snuff box, but I like to think it was bought by a Victorian gent who was rather taken by the majesty of Rocket and simply couldn’t resist a fine memento of the occasion.

Not to be snuffed at



These matches were made by the North of England Match company, based in Hartlepool. We have over 250,000 objects and archives in our collection and we don’t always have a huge amount of information about where the objects came from.

Rocket matchbox


However, we do know that the North of England Match company was established in 1932 and continued to produce matches until 1954. On 30th August of 1954, a huge fire ripped through the factory and completely destroyed everything.


Full steam ahead in the decorative plate department

Another one of our objects that we don’t know much about, this fetching plate was made in 1910 and features an intricately drawn image of Rocket in comparison with one of the modern day locos.

As with the Rocket jug, the plate is in good condition suggesting that it was a prized decorative object in someone’s home.

Like what you see?

We’ll be selling a range of Rocket memorabilia in our shop from 25 September, including replicas of the 1922 Science Museum poster, mugs and tote bags.

Yours for a small fee

Perfect for the loco fan in your life. Choo choo!

4 comments on “Rocket memorabilia in our collection

  1. Just a small niggle: the North of England Match Company was based in West Hartlepool. In 1954 the two towns of Hartlepool and West Hartlepool were separate entities – they were not amalgamated (under the name Hartlepool) until 1 April 1967.

  2. I’am brasilian and I Will visit UK next june2019. Could you inform were may I find the Stephenson’s Rocket in display?

    1. Hi Nilton – Rocket will be on display here in Manchester until September this year. Hope you have a great visit in June!

  3. Dear Madam/Sir,

    This is an inquiry about the name Rocket, of the steam engine. Is the name copyright protected?


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