Trains, planes and ‘Noddy’ cars: Turbocharged fun to power Manchester’s MOSI museum this Easter

Steam trains, planes and even ‘Noddy’ cars will power the Museum of Science and Industry’s engine-fuelled Easter programme.

Manchester’s MOSI tells the story of power and how it has been created, harnessed and used over time in the Power: From Muscle to Machine.

The new Easter programme runs from April 5-27 and will include a range of exhibits and activities telling the story of how power has been used in industry.

Over the Easter weekend itself, the highlight will be head balancer and strongman John Evans’ world record attempt.

At 1pm on Saturday April 19, John will attempt to break the Record Holders Republic Record for balancing Gorilla Crates on his head – he currently holds the record for balancing 25 and wants to make it to 26.

John will be performing three free family friendly shows per day demonstrating his extraordinary power and strength.

Museum worker Sally Stevens said that the museum wanted to get something in the Easter programme to compliment the internal events and demonstrations.

“John Evans is going to be fascinating.

“He is going to be doing a record attempt on Saturday and he carries all sorts on his head – even a Noddy car!

“Its funfair stuff, it will get the public interested and it will be fantastic.”

With one of the largest working collections of steam engines in the world and a Flying Forces show looking at flight pioneer Jack Alcock, there is plenty for Mancunians to look forward to in the April exhibition.

Sally told MM: “The programme runs for three weeks; it’s free, it’s fun and it’s got something for everybody.”

Just one of a team of 18 explainers, Sally hopes her enthusiasm will help bring the exhibition to life.

“An explainer is someone who is on the gallery all the time as a point of contact for the visitors to talk and to answer questions.

“Explainers demonstrate machinery, they do tours and workshops for all audiences, families, adults and schools and we are here to describe the collection and find out any information people ask us.”

Having left university with a degree in Antiques and Auctioneering, Sally decided that a life under the hammer in the auction halls was not for her.

“When I finished university, I worked for a year in London at the portrait gallery and decided I wanted to be part of museums and I came up to Salford to do a Masters (degree) in Museum Management.

“Whilst I was studying I got a part-time job here at MOSI on the weekends as a presenter and I ended up staying.”

Sally, 32, has now been at the museum for 10 years.

“I am a bit scared to leave. I don’t think I could ever leave now. I love working here. The rest of the team too – we just love our job.”

Sally is one of the two team leaders for the 18-strong team of explainers and she describes their style as ‘informal’.

“We want to get people really curious about what is going on in the gallery and, hopefully, then we can give them a life-enhancing experience,” added Sally.

“We want to include education, we want to inspire and we want to engage.

“We are an odd bunch really – different ages, different experiences, different backgrounds and I think that is a real key to our team because we have different interests in different areas.

“Obviously, we are all doing the same shows, the same engine demonstrations all in our different styles and different ways.

“But I think that is what makes us unique and a unique experience for the visitors as well.”

One part of the new programme will feature one of the largest working collection of steam engines in the world – and these will be shown working several times each day.

Sally describes the steam engines as ‘impressive, thunderous and powerful’ and told MM it still amazes her to think that some of these machines were built over 150 years ago and are still running today.

“These engines were built to last so they are a real credit to the workmanship of the time.”

She also says how important it is to remember that Manchester is where the industrial revolution began and that the museum is situated on the very site of the first inter-city passenger railway station.

“The site is probably one of the most important places in the world because this is where science and industry met and the modern world began.

“When you think about what happened here in Manchester in the 1830s, and you think how that railway has expanded across Britain and across the world and how that’s brought industries to Manchester and from Manchester out to the whole world, it sort of hurts your head because it is mind-blowing.”

PLANE PIONEER: Jack Alcock’s Atlantic-conquering plane is a part of the Flying Forces show

Another highlight of their Easter programme will be the museum’s Flying Forces show which explores how local hero Jack Alcock – of Alcock and Brown fame – harnessed power to overcome the forces of nature in his record-breaking trans-Atlantic flight.

For Sally, one of her favourite artefacts in this part of the exhibition is Lucky Jim, Alcock’s stuffed cat toy that travelled with him on his pioneering flight in 1819.

The Museum of Science and Industry, which was beset with funding problems last year and threatened with closure is now part of the Science Museum Group.

The family of museums also includes the Science Museum in London and Wroughton, near Swindon; the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon; and the National Media Museum in Bradford.

The Science Museum Group is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media.

With five million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide.

Sally hopes the future for the museum is equally as exciting as more galleries are transformed into spaces that will tell the story of Manchester’s industrial and railway history in the next decade.

“So I think you will see this site changed dramatically to somewhere that tells a story that is so important.

“I think there will be a lot of attention paid to our outside area too so I think it is going to be an exciting place to be in 10 years.”

Power: From Muscle to Machine runs from Saturday 5 April  –  Sunday 27 April. For full details of the programme go to

Related Articles