Wake up – tea’s up

This post was written by David Thompson

What a treat to be able to wake up in the morning to a ready-made cup of tea and to be grateful to a machine for producing it automatically. Many of the older generation will remember a machine for just that purpose, a machine which was always referred to as the Teasmade.

Probably the one we all remember was the Goblin Teasmade but there were many others and the originally idea has its origins at the end of the 19th century with Mr. Rowbottom’s 1891 patent – with an automatically lit gas burner to heat the water in the kettle and then the machine would pour the boiling water into a tea-pot to make the tea, I can just see the warning notice on such a machine today – well not really as such a fire hazard would not be put into manufacture today.

There is a fine example of an Albert E. Richardson machine in the Science Museum to give an idea of what the early machine were like.

Teasmade model D25B, Goblin, Leatherhead, 1966 (
Teasmade model D25B, Goblin, Leatherhead, 1966 (© Science Museum / SSPL)
© Science Museum / SSPL
Richardson’s automatic tea-making machine, made by the Automatic Water Boiler Company, Birmingham, c.1902 (© Science Museum / SSPL, inv. No. 1961-6)
© Science Museum / SSPL
The machine in its pouring position (© Science Museum / SSPL)

I was intrigued by this subject from seeing the Teasmade on exhibition in the British Museum clocks and watches gallery and it lead me to a splendid account of the history of the automatic tea maker written by David Stoner and published as a chapter in Clifford Bird’s book on Metamec, published by our own society and still available today at a give-away price.

Teas-Made, Goblin, Leatherhead, 1977-80 (British Museum No. 2005,0718.1)
Teasmade model 860, Goblin, Leatherhead, 1977-80 (British Museum No. 2005,0718.1)

All the original machines were clockwork, controlled by a simple alarm clock mechanism so you got the wake-up bell and the ready-made cup of tea, almost guaranteed to be luke warm. Many people swore by them and I don’t doubt at them. Nevertheless, a great idea.

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