1968 – Little Dragon Carpet Sweeper – Rowland Emett – (British)

The "Little Dragon Carpet Sweeper" from the 1968 movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". The movie is set in 1910.

The original contrivance is on show at Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum.

Rowland Emett's 1968 sketch of the Little Dragon Carpet Sweeper.

The "Little Dragon Carpet Cleaner" from 1968

This is a Machine no home of 1910 should have been without.

The Little Dragon crouches upon its four rubber-tyred wheels, with wings flapping, and its two brass pumps more or less co-ordinated with the kitchen-spoon Induction-Fan.

It may then be deployed up and down the carpet with its head (a rather handsome chimney cowl) snuffling from side to side in search of dust in the most convincing manner. The Electric Eyes which greatly help in this search are equipped with a pair of Magnifying Spectacles.


Dick Van Dyke as Caractacus Potts the inventor of "Little Dragon Carpet Sweeper" in the movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".

In real life, the contrivance was built by Rowland Emett, famous British illustrator and inventor.


22 Mar 1980 Herald-Journal

Inventive Inventor

The home of Caractacus Potts is filled with gadgets. For starters there is a Sunflower Dishwasher which looks like a cross between an elaborate birdbath and a miniature dog kennel, a huffing, puffing carpet sweeper looking much like a baby dragon and a one-candle-powered chain-driven sausage and egg cooking machine.
Portrayed Dick Van Dyke, Potts, the oddball inventor from the musical film fantasy    "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" …. begins with the improbable and ends just beyond the impossible. He has only one small problem – his inventions rarely work.
On of them, the sausage and egg machine, which utilizes a vintage locomotive, and old bicycle wheels, a cuckoo clock and a set of train rails, cooks and transports food to the table.  The machine cooks and serves sausages beautifully, but has one shortcoming in the egg department. It hurls the eggs straight at the cook or against the wall.
Inexplicable temper causes the fail of the Potts Little Dragon Sweeper.
Humming Intelligence, the sweeper shuffles over the carpet in search of dust, then suddenly goes beserk and swallows the whole carpet.
The dishwasher is another problem – it cleans dishes spotlessly but then shatters them to pieces.
There are other ingenious contraptions in the film…a hair-cutting device that scalps the victim, a whistling sweet machine – the sweets whistle, not the machine, a mechanized rocking chair, and the world's first television set that screens the same scene night after night – a flickering drama of Grandpa "bull-fighting" the neighbor's elderly goat.
The man behind the cockeyed gadgetry of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" is Rowland Emett, master of three-dimensional eccentricities. The son of a journalist-inventor, Emett was a virtually unrecognized artist until the 1930's when he entered the world of invention with sketches published in "Punch," a major British humor magazine. Not content with just drawing inventions, he began building them and they worked – or failed to work as they do in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."


See other early remote-controlled and robotic vacuum cleaners and floor scrubbers here.


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