by Jennifer Sampson

Rocket Scientist makes Two-foot long Meccano steam locomotive

Published: 17th October 2014

18 months work to create a nuts and bolts ‘Rocket’

Kidlington (near Oxford) is the location of a Meccano Rocket Scientist! Philip Sampson promised his brother Keith that he would present him with a supermodel and he was slightly taken aback when it arrived.

In fact he was astounded when presented with a two foot long model of Stephenson’s Rocket which is a scale replica made from Meccano. Model fanatic Philip could not buy all the pieces he needed, so he created the rest himself out of metal. Mr Sampson, a 67-year-old lives in Kidlington near Oxford, said: “I couldn’t believe it myself when I was finished.”

Jennifer Sampson’s father has been a train fanatic from a young age and now at 61 years old remains fascinated by steam and the role it has played in Britain as well as the rest of the world. He takes his daughter Jennifer around Britain to steam railways, railway museums and she says his passion on the engineering and history of steam trains is clear to see on these visits.

One of his favourites is Stephenson's Rocket and he introduced his brother, Philip to it, explaining how it works, and the role that it played. He then also became fascinated by it and decided that he would make an exact replica of the engine but only using original Meccano pieces that he had collected over the past couple of years.

So Philip Sampson spent thousands of pounds on making the Meccano model obtaining original parts from a website that specialises only in original Meccano pieces. Every item on the engine has been made and put together with his bare hands. For example, the brass has been hand welded and he even made the track out of mahogany and bought a magnifying glass to resemble the magnifying glass as seen on the original rocket. One frustration was that he couldn't find proper train gauges online, so had to settle for miniature clocks!

A family wedding took place in July in Darlington and the brothers visited the steam museum to see the Rocket. There measured and photographically recorded the engine from every angle trying to figure out the exact mechanism which my uncle has then recreated with his bare hands.

After toiling with the project it was handed over as a gift to Keith from Philip and has become an instant family heirloom. The engine took eighteen months to construct and is proud to be able to acknowledge the work that has gone into this and the satisfaction it has given to all involved.

Liverpool street station in the UK at rush hour

Help and advice with train travel in the UK

Train travel in the UK should be a pleasure, not a headache. So if you’re taking a train on the UK railway, start your journey here. We’ve lots of hints, tips and advice to help you find your way around, travel smoothly and arrive in style by train.

Read more

eurostars passing at 375mph from the drivers seat in france


Welcome to our #railchat page. Our #railchat discussions take place over on Twitter, with our resident expert Phil Marsh. If you would like to get involved, please do join us, and use the dedicated hashtag #railchat. See our previous discussions below:

Read more

Old steam train in Shanty Town Museum

Locomotives & Engines

Our rail network would be nothing without them. From Stephenson's Rocket to British Rail Class 92 and beyond, explore the facts, information and anecdotes behind the steam, diesel and electric locomotives that built the age of the train.

Read more


Latest Tweets


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh to London Kings Cross by Train

Book in advance with and save 85% advanced bookings.

From £21.00

Buy now

Millenium Dome, London

Birmingham New Street to London Euston by Train

Book in advance with and save 92% on advance bookings.

From £6

Buy now

You may also like...



Follow us on Twitter and become part of our rail community! is the easy way to buy cheap train tickets online.



Control your business fuel costs with a supermarket fuel card – free to apply, no ongoing account charges and no monthly minimum spend.