The Times August 01, 2006

His master's voice gets all steamed up
By A Correspondent

A STEAM enthusiast and music lover has combined his two favourite hobbies and invented the world’s first steam-powered gramophone.

Geoff Hudspith 51, has spent four years building his unique machine, which he designed to play his collection of old 78 rpm records. The strange-looking gramophone cost less than £100 to build, but most of it was made out of scrap metal.

Mr Hudspith bought two old gramophones for parts; the turntable came from an HMV machine and the pickup arm was from a 1922 Winner model. The enormous horn, restored to its original green colour, is an HMV accessory Mr Hudspith found in a garage, and it is also used to let out steam. The turntable is powered by a single-cylinder steam engine fired by a paraffin boiler.

Water is fed into the boiler by a hand pump and an injector. The water turns to steam, which is then sent to the engine to power a flywheel that moves the turntable. When it reaches 78 revolutions a minute, the turntable is kept at that speed by weights and springs. A needle is then placed on the record and the sound is amplified through the horn.

Mr Hudspith, an engineer from Christchurch, in Dorset, said: “I have taken it to some steam shows abroad and the reaction has been amazing. People are just attracted to it. I haven’t seen another steam gramophone and I believe this is the world’s only one.”