What the British Invented
From the Great to the Downright Bonkers
- Gilly Pickup
15th November 2015
Invent verb; to produce or contrive something previously unknown by the use of ingenuity or imagination.
The world would be a much poorer place without our great British inventions – from catseyes to crossword puzzles, tarmac to telephones, steam engines to shorthand, British inventors have led the world with their ingenious (and sometimes slightly insane) ideas.
The Brits are a creative lot: entrepreneur Hubert Cecil Booth invented the ‘Puffing Billy’, the first powered vacuum cleaner; John Walker was the bright spark who developed matches in 1827, coating the end of a piece of stick with chemicals which, when rubbed against a rough surface, burst into flames; and where would we be without flush loos? We have Sir John Harrington to thank for those, not Thomas Crapper as many maintain – although Crapper was in fact a nineteenth-century plumber who patented a few bathroom fittings of his own.
These are called eureka moments, when chance and inspiration combine to create something wonderful. So, without further ado, let us take a closer look at those brilliant, sometimes slightly bonkers Brits who have done so much to not only improve our daily lives, but also change the world around us.