Leeds Merrion Centre shoppers enjoy flying visit from Emett Machines

They were fantasmagorical machines designed to inspire people to make the impossible possible.
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Several of the historical work art created by cartoonist and inventor Rowland Emett in the 1960s would go on to appear in the hit film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Does the Merrion Centre in Leeds city centre bring back childhood memories of visiting to see the Flying Kite back in the 1960s?

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Fast forward to 2022 and six of the famous Emett machines are back at the shopping centre for the next generation to enjoy as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days celebrations.

Shoppers enjoy one of the Emett Machines. PIC: Steve RidingShoppers enjoy one of the Emett Machines. PIC: Steve Riding
Shoppers enjoy one of the Emett Machines. PIC: Steve Riding

Arnold Ziff, the founder of Town Centre Securities PLC, who originally built and who still owns the Merrion Centre today, became fascinated by the machines and became close friends with Emmett (hence why a sculpture was located in the centre in its infancy).

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Welcome to Leeds – Memories of the Merrion Hotel

The Featherstone-Kite Openwork Basketweave Mark Two Gentleman’s Flying Machine" was on permanent display in a glass display cabinet and was activated regularly to entertain audiences for years.

The free Emett Machine Exhibition located on the upper balcony level, adjacent to the NHS Clinic, runs until Sunday, September 18.