Millennium Point will host The Horological Tintinnabulatora sculpture by renowned inventor and animator Rowland Emett. Held in partnership with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, it accompanies their exhibiton ‘Marvellous Machines: The Wonderful World of Rowland Emett’ at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, which includes many of Emett’s wonderfully eccentric creations, including several featured in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (showing at The Giant Screen on 29 June). It is the largest ever exhibition of his work.

The Horological Tintinnabulator is a magnificent water clock usually housed in the Intu Victoria Shopping Centre in Nottingham, where it has become a beloved local landmark in its home of forty years. Newly restored to its original condition by The Rowland Emett Society, its exhibition at Millennium Point marks the first time it has been seen outside Nottingham – and out of water. The water clock is to be displayed at Millennium Point. The work has been lovingly restored by the Rowland Emett Society who have overseen the installation.

Who Was Rowland Emett?

Born in London in 1906 Frederick Rowland Emett moved with his family to Birmingham at the beginning of the First World War. He was educated at Waverley Grammar School in Small Heath and the Central School of Arts and Crafts in Margaret Street, now part of Birmingham City University.

Between the wars he worked in the art studio of Siviter Smith, process engravers, in Great Charles Street. In 1939 he was called up to assist with the War effort. He joined Turner Brothers, press tool makers in Cliveland Street, Hockley where he worked on designs for the Stirling Bomber and the first British jet aircraft and started producing cartoons for Punch Magazine.

He became famous for his cartoons and was asked to turn them into reality for the Festival of Britain in 1951. The resultant ‘Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway’ at Battersea carried over 2,000,000 people and its success prompted him to build more machines.

In the decades after the War he built a series of whimsical machines that toured extensively in the UK and abroad. The most famous of these appeared in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968. By the time Emett died, in 1990, he had produced over 40 machines, many of which are now held in private collections.

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