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The Insider’s Guide to The National Lottery Open Week - The UK's Finest Inventions

From first of their kind ships to the birth of the modern railway, there are a whole host of National Lottery Open Week venues that feature some of the UK’s finest inventions and engineering feats. Be sure to pay them a visit to find out more and if you can’t wait, read on for insider tips and information to get you in the know.

A man (Ryan Sanders) wearing in a regency costume at the SS Great Britain Boat
Ryan Sanders at the SS Great Britain, Bristol

1. SS Great Britain

Location: Bristol

Open Week offer: Free pre-booked afternoon entry - 19th- 27th March 2022

Insider’s fact:
You can see Brunel’s ship, the SS Great Britain, from all angles including below! Walking under it, you can see both the keel of the world’s first great ocean liner and the glass ‘sea’ that it now sits on. The glass platform is part of a unique conversation approach to help preserve the ship for future generations, which National Lottery players helped to fund in 2005. Did you know that back in 2012 an art installation saw the glass platform covered in 55,000 litres of lime green jelly!

Insider’s tip:
Don’t miss the chance to sit in the shaking broad-gauge carriage to try your hand at drawing circles and compare your freehand drawing skills with Brunel’s.

A dock with old boats (National Waterways Museum) in Gloucester
Gloucester Docks, National Waterways Museum, Gloucestershire

2. National Waterways Museum Gloucester

Location: Gloucester, Gloucestershire

Open Week offer: Free entry and free gift – 22nd to 26th March

Insider’s fact:
The Gloucester & Sharpness canal was once the broadest and deepest in the world and helped Gloucester become a centre for the corn trade in the 1840s. While you’re visiting, don’t forget to check out the Queen Boadicea II. Originally built as a pleasure boat, she was one of the Dunkirk Little Ships and saw action in Dunkirk harbour where she evacuated many stranded soldiers.

Insider’s tip:
Make the most of the museum’s outdoor picnic area and enjoy tasty treats from LLanthony Tea Room and Gift Shop.

A footbridge sign in the Darlington Railway Museum
Saltburn footbridge sign in the Darlington Railway Museum, County Durham

3. Head of Steam - Darlington Railway Museum

Location: Darlington, County Durham

Open Week offer: Free entry - 19th- 20th& 23rd - 27th March 2022

Insider’s fact:
The museum is located on the original 1825 route of the Stockton & Darlington Railway – the birthplace of the modern railway! Opened on September 27th in 1825, it was the first passenger railway to use steam trains to transport passengers. When visiting, you can see the locomotive, or ‘Locomotion’ as it’s known, that was used at the ceremonial opening almost 200 years ago.

Insider’s tip:
It’s easy to reach the museum by train, as the entrance is located just minutes from North Road train station.

A plane and people around it in the National Museum of Flight
Civil Aviation hangar, National Museum of Flight by ©Ruth Armstrong

4. National Museum of Flight

Location: East Fortune, East Lothian

Open Week Offer: Free Entry - 26th and 27th March 2022

Insider’s fact:
Did you know that the Britten Norman Islander on display at the museum was in fact an air ambulance, connecting Scottish island communities to the mainland? Over almost 40 years of service, 22 babies were born aboard the aircraft in the ambulance fleet, including one set of twins. These Islander planes are still in use today and operate on the shortest commercial flight in the world, between Westray and Papa Westray in Orkney.

Insider’s tip:
Don’t miss the chance to snap a selfie on the museum’s Concorde – the world’s only supersonic passenger aeroplane.

Explore the full list National Lottery Open Week offers at

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