Dereham rocket man’s passion began as way to inspire science class

Rod Stevenson, chairman of the East Anglian Rocketry Society, launches a self build rocket during an

Rod Stevenson, chairman of the East Anglian Rocketry Society, launches a self build rocket during an East Anglian Rocketry Society meet at Elsworth in Cambridgeshire. Chris Radburn/PA Wire - Credit: PA

It began as a way to inspire his science class, then launching rockets became a passion.

Rod Stevenson, chairman of the East Anglian Rocketry Society, works on a self build rocket in his wo

Rod Stevenson, chairman of the East Anglian Rocketry Society, works on a self build rocket in his workshop at his home in Dereham, Norfolk. Chris Radburn/PA - Credit: PA

Semi-retired school teacher Rod Stevenson builds the rockets in a workshop at his home near Dereham, Norfolk, and launches them with members of his rocket club from a farmer's field in Cambridgeshire, miles from the nearest house.

'It's just the thrill of building something that to all intents and purposes is capable of reaching space if you had enough money,' he said. 'It's the ultimate in model making.

'You can build model aircraft and ships but these are real things with rocket fuel in.'

The 57-year-old is chairman of the East Anglian Rocketry Society, which numbers around 60 members including a chef, a university professor and housewives.


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Their gathering of vehicles in a field has been mistaken for hare coursers before, as launching rockets seems so unlikely.

He said the rockets were limited to 10,000ft so they did not interfere with aircraft and activity was heavily regulated.

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The biggest rocket was three metres long, and rocket fuel was imported from Canada as it is illegal to make it in the UK.

Mr Stevenson said more people were joining the club as the economy had improved and it could be an expensive hobby.

And while it is rocket science, he insisted: 'The very simple ones are very easy to make.

'A cardboard tube and some balsa wood fins, push the button, up it goes.'

He runs rocket workshops in schools with his own company when he is not teaching.

• To learn more visit the Space School website.

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