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Who Says We Are Not Innovative? Great British Inventions

29/03/2016 15:27 | Updated 29 March 2016

In my blogs this month I have been looking at the importance of innovation, being innovative and adopting an innovative approach. While doing my research I came across a lot of amazing British inventions- which I thought I would celebrate. I have chosen my 10 favourite inventions but there are plenty more!

I have put these in no particular order of importance and it is certainly not an exclusive list- more of a celebration of the inventiveness of our heritage and people.

Great British Inventions

1. CHOCOLATE BAR

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Image courtesy of Kim Traynor

1847. JS Fry & Sons
Where would we be without chocolate? Up until 1847 you could only consume chocolate as a drink, until JS Fry perfected the technique of solidifying chocolate. Yum!

2. THE TELEVISION
1925. John Logie Baird,
No Downton Abbey, Eastenders or A Question of Sport...there is much debate about the value of television but the technology allows for people all over the world to see and hear things they could never experience otherwise.

3. CATS EYES
1933. Percy Shaw
Percy Shaw was a Yorkshire road contractor who said he got the inspiration for cats eyes literally from seeing his headlights reflected in a cats eyes while driving home one night. A simple solution to night time road markings that has had a major impact on road safety.

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Image courtesy of Zoney

4. WORLDWIDE WEB
1989. Tim Berners-Lee
The internet itself is a linked system of computer networks which when created was not accessible by ordinary people. Tim Berners Lee, created and donated what we now know as www to the world- for free- the ultimate gesture of freedom of information. He created the first server in late 1990 and, on 6 August 1991, the web went live, with the first page explaining how to search and how to set up a site.

5. COLLAPSIBLE BABY BUGGY
1965 Owen Maclaren
During WW2 Maclaren helped design the Spitfire's folding undercarriage. He then applied that idea to solving the pram problem and created the collapsible baby buggy.

6. TOOTHBRUSH

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Image sourced from Pixabay

1770. William Addis
William Addis was a rag trader who was sent to prison in 1770. Up until then people cleaned their teeth by rubbing soot and salt over them with a rag. Addis created the first toothbrush from animal bone with a hole in it, through which he inserted bristles. On his release Addis set up a business to mass-produce toothbrushes. His company, Wisdom Toothbrushes, still exists.

7. WIND-UP RADIO
1991. Trevor Baylis
Trevor Baylis saw a television programme about Aids in Africa that said one way to stop its spread was for people to hear educational information on the radio. The problem, however, was the patchiness of available electricity in many of the outlying villages. Baylis solved this problem by designing a radio that didn't need batteries. It worked off an internal generator powered by a mainspring that you tightened by winding a hand crank on the outside of the radio. Baylis was given the chance to demonstrate his invention to Nelson Mandela and now his wind up radio has been distributed all over Africa.

8. JET ENGINE
1937. Frank Whittle
Frank Whittle was an RAF fighter pilot and only 24 years old when he first patented the turbojet aircraft. The design was so radically different from anything available at the time that the military refused to fund it and he could not get any interest from manufacturers. Undeterred he persisted until a few private backers supported his dream and in 1941 achieved the first 17-minute test flight of the jet engine. The rest, as they say, is history.

9. BETA BLOCKERS
1960's. James Black
It takes him a decade, but Black manages to create propranolol (Indral), a drug that successfully blocks the heart's adrenaline-responsive beta-receptors. Black's beta-blockers, as they are now called, have saved the lives of countless heart disease patients around the world.

10. SOLAR EVAPORATION REFRIGERATOR
2007 Emily Cummins
At the age of 19 Emily Cummins invented a refrigerator for third world countries that she personally went and tested in Namibia. Made from sustainable materials, it enables developing countries to refrigerate medicines and food without electricity.

In the fields of Science, Engineering and Technology there have always been inspired men and women who have created products and processes that have changed the world we live in. I would love to know which of these are your favourites - or which inventions you think should be included as being truly important?

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