Talks and Demo’s

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Over 20 years we have been asked to talk about Automata many times and have developed a popular demonstration and a  range of well received talks that can be tailored to suit a variety of audiences and interest levels.

Most popular are:

1 – Demonstration showing 16 antique automata and singing birds in action describing them and how they work. 35-40 minutes.

2 – Its Alive! – How automata  eat, drink, dance and sing (and other useful functions!).  45 mins

3 – Automata – A History of mechanical life. 45 mins

4 – Automata on Stage and Screen – from Fritz Langs ‘Metropolis’ to ‘Scorseses Hugo’.

The talks can emphasise the  technical aspects of automata, exploring the design and mechanical intricacies for an academic audience or  fast paced visual entertainment with leaping tigers and magical moving figures for a general or special needs audience.

We have the knowledge and enthusiasm to bring automata to life in all situations!


The talk was a sell out and as someone who is passionate about his subject he gave a fascinating talk, moreover without a note” –  Heath Robinson Museum Chairman to the Crafts Council, London 2018

Automata - 10

Robots Exhibition Review- Utrecht

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A great new exhibition of Robots and Automata ‘Robots Love Music’ that has gathered rare exhibits from around the world is reviewed by Michael Start of The House of Automata in the latest edition of The Music Box Journal.

The exhibition runs until the 3rd of March 2019.

To see the full article with photos click the Read More button and then follow the link which will work from there.

Click here for the Robots Utrecht Review


Automata Evening – London – SOLD OUT

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All tickets for this event are now Sold Out.

The master of creative crazy contraptions Heath Robinson has a museum devoted to him and his work. It is located in Pinner on the outskirts of London (Pinner tube station) and Michael Start of The House of Automata is delighted to present a talk and demonstration on the 16th of August at 6.30pm. The event will include performances of rare antique automata and an insight into the weird & wonderful world of the objects and their owners, its going to be fab!  The event is followed by an opportunity to enjoy the Crafts Councils excellent automata exhibition ‘A Curious Turn’ ……. featuring modern automata.    –     For more information:  Heath Robinson Museum

"Tell me about Automata" say's Mr Moon.

“Tell me about Automata” say’s Mr Moon.

Spring (repair) is here

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On a large automaton of Little Tich, the 19th century music hall performer. The large mainspring was found to have its hole torn out from the barrel hooking. This is a fairly common repair, a result of ‘overwinding’.

The secret to the repair is the process of softening the steel prior to punching and shaping a new hole.

The new end will be curved to fit the shape of the barrel and then the spring cleaned and greased before fitting.

Softening the end

The original hole is torn out so begin by softening the end, note the heat protection for the main coils.


Punch a small hole or dimple


Cut off and reshape tail of the spring. It can also help to reshape the curve to aid hooking.

Automatacon 2018

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We are excited to be attending the 2018 Automata Convention in Morristown, USA in May 18th-20th. The schedule is now live and on the Sunday at 1pm we will be presenting a talk on the importance of Automata in Films and the Media.

There is a full and varied Schedule of fascinating presentations by experts and enthusiasts from around the world, all talking on our favourite subject … you got it… Automata!

Check the website for more details and see you in Morristown in May!


The House of Automata – The Movie!

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A short film about The House of Automata by acclaimed Edinburgh photographer Euan Myles and ace film maker Jonnie Lewis (Trainspotting 2).
They capture the magic and appeal of automata in this 6minute documentary film set in our North of Scotland workshop.

(I never thought I would be skipping through the woods in the sunset clutching Bontems Singing birdcages!).

Click HERE to view the film on vimeo.

Euan Film

It’s Alive! Exhibition of Automata – Edinburgh

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Now finished.

Stats for Exhibition: 60,000 Visitors to the exhibition and 1000 watching our live demo’s!


Musical Chair Acrobat

on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, in a free exhibition from the House of Automata (22 June – 18 September 2017).

It’s Alive! from the House of Automata will provide the first free, interactive and atmospheric display of these incredible examples of craftsmanship in Edinburgh with  special Automata performances throughout July, August & September.

Its Alive
Open from the 22nd of June, this unique collection of mechanical marvels will include an amazing magician in faded silks, who keeps us guessing as he runs through his cups-and-balls routine; a dazzling acrobat based on a famous Moulin Rouge performer; and Heba, a beautiful harpist whose graceful hands strum her long-lost instrument.

Fine automata such as these were made to entertain the fashionable elite of Paris in the late 1800s, and bring together the arts of the clockmaker, sculptor and couturier. ‘It’s Alive!

Automata Performances

Throughout July, August & September visitors will be able to see even more of the machines come to life, as Michael and Maria give demonstrations of the machines in action. These performances are not to be missed. Most Fridays at 2.00pm and Saturdays at 11.30am – check Edinburgh museum website for details.