Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! Marvellous Machines In Bradford

By Carla Boreham | 21 October 2004
Shows a photograph of the Fairway-Birdie, a fully-automated golf machine, complete with a refreshing 19th hole, on wheels.

The Fairway - Birdie Mk1. By Rowland Emett OBE. Courtesy Bradford Industrial Museum.

West Yorkshire gets a taste of Hollywood as the amazing machines used in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are exhibited at Bradford Industrial Museum.

The ingenious designs of Rowland Emett OBE are on display until January 16 2005.

Emett, a cartoonist and creator of kinetic sculptures, is best known for his machines used as the inventions of Caractacus Potts, played by Dick Van Dyke, in the 1968 children’s classic.

Seven magical machines can be seen including five from the film. The detail on each is extraordinary and both children and adults will want to spend time examining the intricacies.

The most enjoyable aspect of this exhibition is looking out for the everyday objects contained in the inventions: kitchen sieves, bicycle wheels and chains, door knobs, tassels and ribbons, lampshades, belts, dog leads and coat hooks are just some of the things you’ll see on close inspection.

Shows a photograph of two young boys gazing into a porthole which is lit from behind.

Also on at the museum, the Eureka! exhibition is inspired by Emett's inventions and looks to get young brains fired up. Courtesy Bradford Industrial Museum.

The sweet machine makes toffee apples and the now-famous Toot Sweets whistling candy sticks, which look good enough to eat. Its main structure is composed of sundry copper fern pots, vases and an antique milk churn.

As a first attempt at television, the Visivision Machine is constructed from a gramophone and Auntie’s old sewing machine. Unfortunately the picture is stuck on a shadowy vision of Grandpa bull-fighting next-door’s goat.

The Little Dragon Carpet Cleaner has wings made from bellows, a fan made of kitchen spoons and a chimney cowl head. It searches for dust with the aid of magnifying spectacles for its electric eyes.

Emett’s concern over the amount of energy wasted by users of rocking chairs led to the invention of the Hush-A-Bye Hot Air Rocking Chair.

A silent engine gently rocks the chair by pushing a pram wheel up and down the carpet. A permanent slipper bracket relieves the family dog of the responsibility of slipper-fetching.

The Clockwork Lullaby Machine is based upon a bread board. The tune is produced by metal fingers, which hit rotating metal pegs attached to a wine bottle. A conch shell works as an amplifier and cat bells add additional rhythm, while the horn is a rolled-up page of Brahm’s Cradle Song.

Shows a photograph of children running around a sperical model.

Courtesy Bradford Industrial Museum.

Two of the machines displayed were not used in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The Fairway-Birdie is a fully-automated golf machine, complete with a refreshing 19th hole. And ‘Maud’ is an Exploratory Moon-Probe Lunacycle.

This colourful stained-glass machine enables Professor Capricorn to explore the moon. A dustpan and brush at the front collects moon dust and clears the way. As cats always land on their feet, the Professor’s personal astrocat is carried to establish the direction of gravity. Look for the obligatory British cup of tea and the cheese samples!

It is certainly worth reading the information placed alongside both these exhibits, which explain the intricacies and the humorous thought processes behind each and every detail added.

This exhibition of the inventions of a real Caractus Potts is an excellent starting point from which to explore the whole museum, and works in conjunction with the ‘Eureka!’ exhibition which encourages children to be creative and think differently.

Emett’s humour shines through each creation and the display is a must for any fan of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

It’s almost enough to make you want to go home and start being creative with some pots and pans….now, maybe that table would make a good boat…!

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