Jan 25, 2016

Wacky British inventions


By on Monday, January 25, 2016

A bicycle with wings and a Land Rover that turns into a hovercraft are just a couple of British inventions that failed to take off – but there are many more. An archive of weird and wacky innovations has been unearthed by an amateur historian as he trawled through a collection of images spanning the last century
An experimental motorcycle

Businessman Chris Hodge, from Chislehurst, south east London, has collected more than 250,000 images and is having them all digitally scanned and archived.
Amphibious scooter

The eccentric inventions of years gone by include what appears to be an early version of a videophone, an amphibious Lambretta scooter (seen here), a Land Rover hovercraft and a bicycle with wings.

An experimental flying bicycle

The flying-bicycle prototype appears to be one of the inventions with the lowest likelihood of success.
An early version of a videophone

Innovation is often driven by dreams, and the inventor of this videophone has obviously had a glimpse of where the future would take technology.
A prototype portable hairdryer

Other photographs include a portable hairdryer, a mini-submarine, a side-by-side tandem bicycle and a back-facing sidecar.
An amphibious vehicle

This mini-submarine is an invention one would have to have a lot of faith in – there is no record as to whether the occupant’s feet stayed dry.

An experimental tandem bicycle

Here is an unorthodox approach to the tandem bicycle, which would have made for a more sociable – but perhaps a less practical – ride.

An amphibious vehicle

The collection, most of which has not been seen for several decades, also features photos of factories, military history, boats, motorsport, medical history, hobbies, rare trucks and cars.

An experimental gyrocopter

Mr Hodge, 56, who has been collecting the images for over a decade, and says: “It’s wonderful to be able to reveal the often hidden world of our past. Some of these shots are the only record of their kind, showing how even the most simple things were done completely differently. 

 An amphibious vehicle

Gyr King, founding director of Easyart, said the collection is a “hidden gem of British social history. The vast majority of these images have remained unseen for several decades and shine a light on the extraordinary inventions, machines, people, places and events in Britain’s past.”


A motorcycle with reverse side car

The photos, taken from various British trade and business-to-business media titles including Motorcycle News, Speed & Power Magazine and Nursing Times, document Britons trying to invent the ‘next big thing’.

An amphibious vehicle

The 20 tonnes of original, Anglo-centric material is currently in a specially built, air-conditioned and atmospherically-controlled containment unit in Greenwich, London. 

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