Great British Inventions


Today I’m taking a look at great British inventions and checking out how much and what they have evolved into. While doing my research I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how many things Brits have invented and how useful most of those inventions are. These are just a few of my favourites:

Bars Of Chocolate

Most of us love chocolate, but until today I never realised that the chocolate bar was a British invention and that the very first bar of chocolate was one of my old favourites Fry’s Chocolate Cream. This fondant filled chocolate treat was first invented by Joseph Fry in Bristol in 1847.

Currently there are 2 flavours being sold in shops: the chocolate cream and peppermint cream. Unfortunately the orange cream flavour was discontinued last year. I remember years ago buying a bar with 5 different flavour fondant fillings. I loved those and it was a shame that they discontinued that in 1992. They were gorg as my 11 year old granddaughter says. I really fancy a bar of Fry’s chocolate cream now!


Alexander Graham Bell is said to have invented the telephone and patented it back in 1876. This was disputed by American rival Elisha Gray who said that Alexander Graham Bell had stolen the idea from him. However Mr Bell was granted the patent after the patents office ruled in his favour.

If he could have journeyed into the future in Dr Who’s telephone box Tardis. It wouldn’t take long for him to see somebody walking and talking into a mobile phone, I wonder what he would have thought of the modern day version of his invention. Would he be amazed to know that you can talk to somebody at the other side of the world just as easily as someone in the next room.

Cat’s Eyes

Driving down a dark country lane last week I was so glad of the Cat’s Eyes embedded in the middle of the road and indeed  many miles of roads worldwide. Cat’s Eyes have been keeping travellers safe since their invention by Percy Shaw of in 1933. Percy lived in Halifax, just 10 miles away from where I live in Yorkshire.

Cat’s Eyes were made using 4 reflective glass spheres set into a rubber dome which is mounted in cast iron housing. A fairly simple invention that must have save many lives.


John Logie Baird gave the first public demonstration of television back in 1925. That was in black and white, but it was only 3 years later that he was able to demonstrate the first colour television. His invention evolved until it was able to reach massive audiences of millions in their own homes.

When he first thought of visual communication through his invention I wonder if he dreamt that programmes would be filmed not just to show news and events that it would be a source of entertainment worldwide. That many homes would have multiple televisions and that programmes would reach those televisions by satellite or digitally. Or that smart televisions would exist.

Bagless Vacuum Cleaners

When I was young my mum used to soldier on with a cloth bag to collect the dust and dirt in her vacuum cleaner. I can remember emptying it and washing it for her. It got very grubby and after many washes threadbare and had to be patched up.

When I left home and started buying vacuums the advance to paper and cardboard replaceable bags had been made. However, they were intended to be filled and thrown away and were costly. Sometimes I managed to empty one and reuse it, but not often.

Then in 1983 James Dyson invented the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner and I wouldn’t swap mine for any other. You take the drum out, empty it, give it a wipe round and back it goes nice and clean and not costing any extra, brilliant.

That’s 5 of my favourite British inventions. When I was looking around I found a list of British innovations and discoveries which starts in 1605 with Bacon’s Cipher. Did you know that a Brit designed the first submarine, or that fingerprinting, steam and jet engines were British inventions? Click on the following link to discover more British inventions:

One of my favourite inventions of recent years is the ring pull opener for food tins, but I think an American invented that sometime in the 1990s. Beats searching for a tin opener that’s for sure.





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