Mechanical masterpieces return to Leeds shopping centre

Emett machine called 'Featherstone Kite'.
Emett machine called 'Featherstone Kite'.
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much-loved mechanical masterpieces that were once on display at a Leeds shopping centre have received national recognition.

Emett’s clockwork machines, which took pride of place in the Merrion Centre, were on BBC’s The One Show last week.

The impressive machines were installed in the centre in 1979 but are currently being loaned out to Birmingham’s NEC for the ‘Marvellous Machines: The Wonderful World of Rowland Emett’ gallery.

But now plans are underway to bring the creations back to the Merrion Centre for its 50th anniversary. English inventor Rowland Emett, creator of the Emett machines, had a close friendship with the late Arnold Ziff, chief executive of the Merrion Centre.

After coming up with contraptions that appeared in the 1968 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film, Mr Ziff asked Rowland to commission the Lunacycle machine for display in the Merrion Centre and purchased several others.

Edward Ziff, chairman and chief executive of Town Centre Securities PLC, said: “My father loved the magical prowess of the machines and he wanted to share this with his customers.

“[Emett’s] creations were amazing and we were all proud to showcase them at the Merrion Centre. I’m confident that those who remember the Emetts will flock in to see them and I’m hopeful that these amazing machines will captivate a new, younger audience as well.”

The machines will be on display in the centre from October 3 until the middle of November.

The collection will includesthe well-known Lunacycle ‘Maud’, the Humbug Major sweet Machine, The Featherstone Kite, The Little Dragon Carpet Cleaner, The VisiVision Machine, The Hush-a-bye Hot Air Rocking Chair and The Clockwork Lullaby Machine.

l The YEP has joined forces with the Merrion Centre for a new competition to celebrate the centre’s anniversary.

We are looking for local aspiring artists to create a commemorative piece of artwork, which will go on display at the site.

The competition winner will receive £1,000.

All entrants must be over 16 years old and submit their work by Sunday, May 18.

For details, visit


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