Monday, August 20, 2007

Take me there: Rowland Emmett's Far Twittering and Oyster Creek Railway, Battersea 1951.

Mind the gap: Far Twittering station

From: Chris Browns Emmett Site:
"Rowland Emett's first cartoons appeared in "Punch" in 1939 and his spindly locomotives, Nellie foremost amongst them, puffed into view shortly after. In 1951 the invitation to turn the drawings into an operating railway for the Festival of Britain resulted in a magical creation and a fundamental change of direction, Rowland Emett from then on increasingly being known for his animated machines, or "Things" as they should properly be called.


The Far Tottering and Oystercreek Railway could be argued to be the most successful in the world, as it paid off all its initial costs in under three weeks! The locomotives were 15 inch gauge diesel-electric engines (from war-surplus searchlight generators), built by Harry Barlow of Stockport"


From an unnamed but brilliant webpage on the Great Emmett:

"Rowland Emett is known as both a cartoonist and a designer/creator of kinetic sculptures . The word 'whimsical' is frequently used to describe his work. His most recognizable work are the 'inventions' of Caractacus Potts in the 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Born in 1906 in London, England, Emett studied art and started employment in the commercial art field. Seeing a friend paid handsomely by Punch magazine for what he thought was a poorly drawn cartoon, he submitted his own, quickly becoming one of the most popular cartoonists at Punch, and eventually cartoon editor.

Many of Emett's cartoons featured trains such as Nellie. In 1951 the Festival of Britain (or here)(a kind of national fair) was to be created, and Emett was approached to build a real-life version of the Far Tottering & Oystercreek Railway. Initially reluctant, he finally agreed and built a 15" gauge version of the Railway, complete with engines Nellie, Neptune and Wild Goose. It became one of the main attractions at the Festival. This led to his constructing many other machines over the following decades.

Emett purchased Wild Goose Cottage in Ditchling, Sussex with the $12,320 commission paid by Life magazine in the U.S. for a 12 page feature article (July 5, 1954) [1]. He lived in this cottage with his wife and business manager, Mary, until his death on November 13, 1990."

Declined to be used by the R.A.F.-"The Shell By Plane X100"

Once in a great while something gentle comes to the surface; The Great Emmett.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the Roland Emmet stuff, I remember seeing working examples of it at a train convention in San Jose ten years ago.