Dippy the diplodocus is coming to the North East as famous dinosaur goes on tour

The skull of the diplodocus, currently on display at the Natural History Museum in London.

The skull of the diplodocus, currently on display at the Natural History Museum in London.

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One of the UK's most famous dinosaurs, Dippy the diplodocus, is coming to the North East.

The 70ft-long reconstructed skeleton, which has greeted visitors to the Natural History Museum in London since 1979, is being replaced by a blue whale.

Children take a close look at Dippy in his current London home.

Children take a close look at Dippy in his current London home.

But Dippy, as the plaster-cast sauropod replica is known, won't be hidden from public view.

Instead, he is setting off on a tour of the UK in 2018, bringing a taste of the Jurassic to eight carefully-selected venues.

The Great North Museum: Hancock in Newcastle has been selected as the North East venue on the tour, with Dippy on show there from May to October 2019.

Iain Watson, director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “We’re very excited that the Great North Museum: Hancock has been selected as a venue on Dippy’s UK tour.

Conservators carry out an inspection of the diplodocus cast.

Conservators carry out an inspection of the diplodocus cast.

"It’s a fabulous honour and we would like to extend our thanks to the Natural History Museum.

“Dippy’s a national treasure and we can’t wait to introduce him to our replica T.Rex Big Mike, who is similarly loved by the people of Newcastle.

"Of course, the tour is not just about dinosaurs and we’re looking forward to using Dippy’s profile to engage our audiences with the richness of the natural world."

Professor Eric Cross, Dean of Cultural Affairs at Newcastle University, added: “Many of us went through that phase as young children of being dinosaur-mad.

The sight which has greeted visitors to the Natural History Museum since 1979.

The sight which has greeted visitors to the Natural History Museum since 1979.

"Not all of us have grown out of this, even though we can’t remember all those long names any more!"

Dippy's tour will begin at Dorset County Museum, which has a gallery dedicated to Britain's fossil-rich Jurassic Coast.

Dippy will then travel to Birmingham, Ulster, Glasgow, Newcastle, Cardiff, Rochdale, and Norwich.

He has enthralled generations of visitors to the London museum, standing just inside the main visitors' entrance.

The move went viral on social media after the launch of a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #SaveDippy.

More than 32,000 people signed a petition calling on the museum to change its mind.

Dippy's last day on show at the Natural History Museum will be January 4, 2017.

Conservators will take the next 12 months preparing him for his tour, which will last until late 2020.

The eight venues were chosen from an application list of 90 candidates when plans for the tour were announced last year.

The replica was cast from original dinosaur bones discovered in the US in 1898. It came to the Natural History Museum in 1905 and was moved to the central hall in 1979.