Automatic tea-making machine, c 1902.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The original design of this machine was built by Albert E Richardson, a clockmaker from Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. The patentee of the machine and maker of this example, Frank Clarke, a Birmingham gunsmith, purchased the original machine and all rights to it from Richardson for an undisclosed sum. It was heated by methylated spirits which would be lit by the automatic striking of a match. This action was initiated by the sounding of the alarm clock, which rang again when the tea was ready. A wooden base holds the alarm clock, kettle tilter and methylated spirit stove. Although ingenious, the heavy reliance on the match being lit at the correct time made the machine potentially dangerous. Made by the Automatic Water Boiler Co.