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Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Wednesday, 1 September 2010 16:18 UK
Wiltshire's Snogometer inventor

By Sarah Jones
BBC Wiltshire

Malcolm Pickard's Snogometer
Malcolm and an eager couple putting the Snogometer through its paces in 1965

Wiltshire's appearances on British Pathé newsreels are now available to the public on a new website.

The Wiltshire collection, of 270 clips, offers everything from town criers shouting silently in a Pewsey championship in 1927 to a Wiltshire inventor bicycling down river on his 'watercycle'.

But the most intriguing footage is of a young Trowbridge inventor, Malcolm Pickard, in 1965 demonstrating his "fantastic contraption" - a Snogometer.

Designed to measure the power of a kiss, the archive Pathé news footage shows Malcolm putting his startling development through its paces whilst his mother (yes it is actually his real mother) looks on.

"I'd just turned 16 and was at Trowbridge College" says Malcolm who, now in his 60s, is still living in the county.

Couple testing Malcom Pickard's snogometer
The kissing machine was "very unsafe" and left a taste of copper in the mouth

"And I was interested in electronics and I was also interested in kissing girls. So I put the two together."

Working out of the attic of his parents' home in Trowbridge, Malcolm created his 'kissing machine' from valves and relays he'd managed to salvage.

"It had a pair of handles made out of copper pipe," says Malcolm, "that measured the resistance of the circuit between the couple.

"The resistance got lower the closer they got together and so the number on the Snogometer got higher and the more passionate they were the faster it went."

But it wasn't until he took his new invention to the local Trowbridge Youth Club, to put it through its paces, that Malcolm made the Pathé Newsreels.

"A little piece about it appeared in the Wiltshire news," says Malcolm, "and that's when the whole thing started."

Very unsafe

Filmed in 1965, in his parents front room, the newsreel shows Malcolm fiddling with his machine whilst a couple of friends engage in a "passionate mashing session".

"After that, I made several television appearances and even went up to the Granada studios in Manchester. They'd hired a model, just one model, but she was for the presenter to test the Snogometer with. Not for me. So I was a bit disappointed."

Despite missing out on testing his machine on all the ladies, Malcolm's Snogometer made him a national celebrity for a couple of months in the 60s.

A woman knitting
Malcolm's mother, Barbara, looking suitably unimpressed

"People would recognise me," says Malcolm, "and I got lots of mail from all over the world including one from Australia just addressed to Malcolm Pickard, Snogometer, England. And it reached me.

"I was even taking taxis to college."

But despite it being a "big adventure" the Snogometer, as Malcolm puts it, "didn't go anywhere".

Although a couple of London businessmen did want to install Malcolm's kissing machine at Fairgrounds up and down the country.

"It was all very unsafe," says Malcolm, "users were actually connected to the electricity - not directly.

"And there was a taste from it. The taste of copper in the mouth and a tingling sensation. It couldn't have been healthy."

And if you want to see Malcolm's Snogometer being put through its paces click here.

Whilst British Pathé's newly compiled Wiltshire collection is also available to view online.




SEE ALSO
Pathe launches Shropshire archive
21 Jul 10 |  History
Archive footage focus on Somerset
12 Aug 10 |  People & Places
Cornwall on film from 1942-1965
15 Jun 10 |  History

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