The Teasmade is that quintessentially British device, the automatic tea making machine. Essentially a combination of an alarm clock, electric kettle and teapot, designed to be placed somewhere convenient at your bedside, where the alarm clock can be set to both activate the tea making process and provide the necessary wake up call. (Although cynics claim that the hubbub produced by the tea making, is usually sufficient in itself to wake all but the most determined sleeper.)

The first such device was the Clockwork Automatic Teamaker patented by a gunsmith named Frank Clarke in 1902 and manufactured by the Automatic Water Boiler Company. But it was the Goblin company (1) that in 1932 developed the prototype of the first such electrically powered device, the Teasmade Automatic Electric Teamaker (now on display in the National Science Museum), which rapidly led to the introduction of the first full production model of an electrical tea making machine in 1933; the suitably Art-Deco styled Goblin Teasmade model D20.

With the proliferation of mains electrical power within Britain during the 1930's together with the continuing difficulty in hiring domestic servants, the Teasmade found a ready market amongst the genteel middle class of pre war Britain. For some reason, the ability to drink a hot cup of tea without the effort of first getting out of bed seemed the height of luxury throughout suburban Britain.

Goblin continued to manufacture a succession of such devices under the Teasmade (2) brand throughout the 1940's and 1950's (with a break for the duration of World War II when production of such frivolous consumer items was suspended). Such was their popularity that other manufacturers such as Russell Hobbs and Philips produced similar competing devices, which although generically described as "teasmades", they were not, of course, sold as such.

However from the 1960's onwards their popularity declined and sales fell. Perhaps the growth of central heating convinced the British that getting out of bed, going to the kitchen and switching a kettle on wasn't that difficult after all. Or perhaps they just simply became unfashionable. (Along with winceyette pyjamas and the Black and White Minstrel Show they have that whiff of the irredeemably naff post empire sense of traditional Britishness that persisted until they discovered sex in around 1964.)

Whatever. In the face of declining revenues, in the early 1970's Goblin BVC fell victim to the recession and was taken over by the Birmingham based BSR Group, and after a number of further corporate restructurings and disposals, the Teasmade trademark ended up with a company called Swan BSR, which became the sole manufacturer of teasmades in the United Kingdom. Swan itself is now owned by the Littlewoods retail group, which is now the sole source of the only Teasmade model available.

And even its days are numbered.

The mixing of mains electricity and hot water in the bedroom has always seemed a trifle dangerous to some. Apparently the powers that be within the European Community agree, such devices will be prohibited from the year 2003. (3)


(1) Originally the British Vacuum Cleaner Company Ltd, that branded its first domestic vacuum cleaner as the Goblin and later changed the company name to Goblin BVC.

(2) And hence the title of this node is quite properly capitalised. In my opinion anyway.

(3) Or so I recall reading somewhere recently. I cannot find any confirmation of this, so it may or may not be true. As far as Brussells is concerned, anything is possible, and hence dis-information is rife.

(4) Our American cousins apparently have a similar device for the brewing of coffee, named the Mr Coffee The company responsible did produce a tea making version, which they naturally called the Mrs Tea, but this was seemingly not successful and is no longer available.

(5) Lots of information shamelessly condensed from which has more information on the subject that you would possibly ever want to know. (People collect the things. Look in your loft now. That disgarded and disregarded small domestic electic appliance could be worth something.)

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