The Little Dragon Carpet Sweeper

A humbug sweet machine, hot air rocking chair and little dragon carpet sweeper are just some of the marvellous machines conceived by famous cartoonist and sculptor, Rowland Emett, which are now forming part of a new exhibition at the Merrion Centre in the heart of Leeds’ Arena Quarter.

After an absence of over 20 years, eight of the famous machines from the English conceiver of confounded contraptions that were featured in the cult film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, will once again be housed at the Merrion Centre from early November for new generations to see and discover more about these unique pieces of working art.

Arnold Ziff, founder of property investment company Town Centre Securities PLC (TCS), who originally built and still own the Merrion Centre today, became fascinated with the machines, and quickly became a fan and firm friend of Emett back in the 1960s.

This forged friendship led to Emett’s “Featherstone-Kite Openwork Basketweave Mark Two Gentleman’s Flying Machine”, one of only two copies in existence, being displayed in a glass case at the Merrion Centre from the 1960s. The “Flying Kite” was an immediate crowd pleaser and was activated every 30 minutes for audiences to enjoy for many years. The other copy was on permanent display at the Mid-America Science Museum in Arkansas.


The collection of whimsical machines has now been taken out of safe storage to create a “truly scrumptious” exhibition for the general public to once again enjoy in time for Christmas – timely after recent developments across the centre are now complete.

Spread over the lower and upper balcony levels in the centre, the exhibition will include the famous Featherstone Kite Gentleman’s Flying Machine; The Exploratory Moon-Probe Lunacycle (M.A.U.D); The Little Humbug Major Sweet Machine; the Little Dragon Carpet Sweeper, The Fairway Birdie, Emett’s Television/Visivision Machine; the Hot Air Rocking Chair and the Clockwork Lullabye Machine. Each machine will be activated for 10 minutes on the hour every hour.

Edward Ziff, chairman and chief executive of TCS commented:

“We are truly excited to once again bring Rowland Emett’s wonderful kinetic sculptures back on show at the Merrion Centre. The famous ‘Flying Kite’ displayed at the centre during its infancy conjures up wonderful childhood memories for many, so it’s fantastic to have these fascinating machines back where they belong for the next generation to see, learn more about and enjoy. We look forward to seeing the reaction of shoppers and visitors to the installation who can visit at their own leisure throughout the festive season.”