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‘Marvellous machines’ and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ‘charm’ have arrived at the Science and Industry Museum

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 24th November 2021

There’s a whole host of exciting exhibitions and activities to catch at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester over the festive period.  

One of the highlights in the iconic museum’s winter events calendar is the last work by one of Britain’s best loved artists, sculptors, and famed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang creator Rowland Emett – which is now on display in Manchester for the first time in the Textiles gallery until April 2022.

Constructed in 1984, the unique moving sculpture named – which is named ‘A Quiet Afternoon in the Cloud Cuckoo Valley’ – was saved for the UK after being purchased for the Science Museum Group Collection with support from Art Fund, the Science Museum Foundation, the Friends of the National Railway Museum and private donors, and visitors are now able to see two scenes from the work of art telling the story of a journey aboard the imaginary ‘Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway,’ based on one of his cartoons. 

The two scenes – Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway, featuring the ‘Wild Goose’ locomotive, and Oyster Creek – will come to life twice a day at 11.30am and 2pm. 

Visitors will be treated to “cogs whirring, characters toasting teacakes, and catching butterflies”, while also getting the chance to discover what the newly-arrived sculpture has in common with the museum’s thundering textiles machinery.


Born in London in 1906, Emett was known for creating a series of intricate mechanical sculptures based on his imaginative creations, and is famed most for the inventions of ‘Caractacus Potts’ in the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – including the flying car itself, and the Humbug-Major Sweet Machine. 

If that wasn’t enough, from 18 December to 4 January, there’ll be some other “wondrous winter activities” will be bringing the magic of machinery to life.


At 10.45am, 1.15pm, and 2.45pm each day, under 7s can take part in ‘Mini Movers’ to “roll, clank, whirr and clack” around the Textiles Gallery, and explore the machines through imitation, invention, and imagination, and then visitors of all ages can join the museum’s team of Explainers in the Textiles Gallery to make a simple wind-up toy from recyclable materials.

The ‘Experiment Gallery’ is also a firm-favourite with families, where science is brought to life through a series of interactive exhibits, from lifting a mini, to creating a hurricane. 

There’s also two unmissable major exhibitions dedicated to medicine and music / Credit: Science and Industry Museum

For older families there are two unmissable major exhibitions dedicated to medicine and music.


Brand-new headline exhibition Cancer Revolution: Science, Innovation and Hope is the first major object-rich exhibition to explore the revolution in science transforming cancer care, while Use Hearing Protection: The early years of Factory Records lets you unearth the story of Factory Records’ formative years from 1978 to 1982, and how their innovative work in music, technology, and design gave Manchester an authentic voice and distinctive identity.

The Science and Industry Museum is also currently going through a multi-million pound restoration programme, which means that some areas – including the Power Hall – remain closed to the public.

But, there’s still plenty for families to do, see, and enjoy during the holidays.

Tickets for all winter activities at the Science and Industry Museum are available now and can be booked in advance on the museum’s website here, or by calling 033 0058 0058.

Featured Image – Drew Forsyth / Science and Industry Museum