Blog: Inventions that Shaped Britain

Date: December 2, 2019

By Sarah Cheesman, Digital Marketing Manager at Catax

Britain has historically been a hotbed of amazing inventions which have shaped the way the world works to this day. I have rounded up my ten favourite inventions to give a bit more insight into how they came about.

  1. The television.

It would be impossible to say that this invention hasn’t changed the way the world works. The first electronic television was invented in 1927 by a 21-year-old inventor called Philo Taylor Farnsworth. He began working on the idea of transmitting moving images via radio waves when he was in high school, and was miles ahead of the mechanical televisions that had been created to date.

  1. Catseyes

These were invented by Percy Shaw, a Yorkshire road contractor in 1933. Inspired by seeing the reflection of his headlights in the eyes of a cat on his way home one night, this invention was voted the greatest of the 20th century!

  1. Carbon Fibre

Carbon fibre was invented by the Royal Aircraft Establishment Engineers in 1963. This material, made of very thin filaments of carbon atoms, is both strong and lightweight and has been instrumental in how we build boats, cars, planes and other vehicles across the world.

  1. Reflecting Telescope

Invented in 1668 by Isaac Newton, this invention allowed for a huge step forward in telescope technology, meaning astronomical observation was much more accurate.

  1. Hip Replacement

British surgeon, John Charnley, designed the first hip joint and performed his first successful hip-replacement surgery in 1962. The original was made of Teflon and acrylic bone cement, however there have been a great many of advances since this! Today, around 80,000 replacements take place each year in Britain.

  1. Passenger Railway

The passenger railway was brought about by George Stephenson in 1825, who was working as a miner at the time. Stephenson used steam engines to replace horses which started the wheels in motion (so to speak) for the passenger railway!

  1. Automatic Kettle

Can you even imagine a kettle that doesn’t switch itself off when it boils? This is thanks to Peter Hobbs, who invented the automatic kettle in 1955. For a nation of tea lovers, this has made a huge difference to our lives!

  1. Jet Engine

24-year-old RAF fighter pilot, Frank Whittle, patented the turbojet in 1930. Despite this, it wasn’t funded by the military or manufacturers until 1937 as it was considered too radical before that!

  1. Photography

William Henry Fox Talbot made a breakthrough in photography in 1835 by using silver iodide on paper, producing a translucent negative which could then be used indefinitely for contact printing

  1. Hovercraft

In 1953, Christopher Cockerill was trying to work out how to make boats go faster. He worked out that when he blasted air down a narrow channel outside the craft, this trapped high-pressure air underneath and formed a ‘momentum curtain’. He used this technology to create the first hovercraft, which crossed the channel for the first time on 1st June 1959.

At Catax we’re crazy about inventions and innovation! If your business is doing something amazing, you could be eligible to claim valuable Research & Development or Patent Box tax relief!

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