The famous Merriment sparrows eyeing off crumbs.

The famous Merriment sparrows eyeing off crumbs.

Morning has broken and so have a few eardrums as the   nosebags go on.

Morning has broken and so have a few eardrums as the nosebags go on.

Save the children Brownaway toaster.

Save the children Brownaway toaster.


Some of my readers have been asking for my hotel toaster reports. This, then, is the first.

I should point out that there was no toaster at the Ambassador airport transit hotel in Singapore. There was no dining room to put one in and no toast captain to maintain it.

The JW Merriment, on the other hand, has a fine matching pair of Brownaway toasters which appear in their own booth at breakfast time.

Archival research reveals that the Brownaway toaster was invented by Herbert Brown in London in 1923. He was trying to build a tanning machine to relieve the pallor of European women who didn’t get enough sunlight, especially in winter. His early experiments were such a flop and so costly that he finished up in Wormwood Scrubs debtors’ prison on bread and water. He thought often about his now abandoned machine and how nice it would be to tan the bread he was living on. While making lawn mowers in the prison machine shop, Brown saved up enough scrap metal to build his first toaster, the Brown One. He was caught testing it, but the prison superintendent saw great value in the machine, and let Brown out on the condition that they go into partnership.

The model shown here is the Brownaway Protect-the-Child variant. Its in tray slide is set at a carefully calibrated height so that no normal child under the age of eight can reach it. Very young, or very short children are encouraged to throw the bread in, like scoring a goal at netball. Grandparents are invited to clap and hand out lollies when a piece goes in. Here at the Merriment I have also seen an adult lift up a toddler to load a slice of bread to stop the kid screaming because bigger kids were having all the fun.

The Brownaway is a fine machine, but thick slices can get into trouble around the Devil’s Elbow at the back – which calls for a fully qualified toast captain to be on hand with a fire extinguisher.

Fighting my way through the crèche-crush this morning I loaded in two pieces of bread but they only turned into toast after three passes. This was because the speed knob was on the speedy setting. I dared not change it since the toast captain is empowered to fine people if they endanger the lives of children. And then there’s the more serious criminal charge of creating a fire hazard by unlawfully interfering with a hotel toaster knob.

For more on Merriment dining room I have added some shots I took this morning.