Magnificent Machines - Pete Browne & Merv Huggett

By Claire Cooper

An amazing breakfast making machine, which started life as a scribble on the back of an envelope, was showcased on national television last month.

Created by inventors Merv Huggett of Lindfield and Pete Bowne of Highbrook, the Breakfast Making Machine was one of three inventions featured on the BBC’s Britain’s Most Spectacular Backyard Builds – a programme which celebrates the best of the country’s most ‘ingenious, eccentric and bonkers creations!’

Merv and Pete were invited to take part in the show following their work with the Roland Emett Society. “We were asked to maintain the eight Rowland Emett machines which went on display last year at Brighton and Ditchling Museums,” said Merv. “Some of the machines were commissioned for the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, including the Humbug Major and Clockwork Lullaby.”

The pair were approached by researchers and invited to design a machine which was useful in the home. “We sat down, drank coffee and exchanged ideas, jotting down notes on the back of an old envelope,” said Pete. “I’d say around 90 per cent of our inventions have been designed on the backs of envelopes!”

Ideas included a money launderer (machine to clean and polish cash), a banana peeler and Christmas cracker puller.

“We both like making things that look extremely complicated but do something simple and stupid,” said Merv.

But it was the idea of a breakfast making  machine which caught the eye of the researchers, and the pair were given a budget of £2,500 and ten weeks to turn their idea into reality. A camera crew and presenters Sara Cox and Piers Taylor followed Pete and Merv’s progress as the machine came to life.

(to read the full article, see page 24 of the August 2016 issue of Lindfield Life)