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9 Life-Changing Inventions Dreamt Up by Us Brits

From chocolate bars and lava lamps to serious inventions like the web and your next bed, us Brits have quite the imagination…

8th February, 2017
by Carl Walsh

From chocolate bars and lava lamps to serious inventions like the web and your next bed, us Brits have quite the imagination…

A complete list of British inventions would go on forever, but fear not, we’ve put together some of the best and frankly, your life wouldn’t be the same without them. Every success hides hundreds of failures, a testament to our plucky British spirit. The big question is, which is your favourite eureka moment?

1. The Toothbrush

Brushing your pearly whites is a bedtime ritual, thanks to William Addis – the prisoner carved a handle from cattle bone and threaded it with pig bristles, to create the first modern toothbrush in 1780.

2. Waterproof Material

These fair isles are famed for rain, so it should come as no surprise that waterproof material was invented by a Brit – amateur chemist Charles Macintosh in 1823. His family’s coats kept folk bone dry, as our 5 varieties of waterproof mattress protectors do your bed – from the made-to-order and the anti-allergenic to the extra cushiony plush varieties.

3. Chocolate Bars

Fry’s Chocolate Cream is the granddaddy of chocolate bars – British chocolatier Joseph Fry was the first to create one in 1847, adding sweet sticky fondant and butter to cocoa blocks. Until then, people only drank cocoa. Of course, you’d be foolish to enjoy your sweet treats before bedtime, because caffeine and sugar can wreak havoc on your sleep.  

4. The Mini

This British invention was ‘life-changing’ for the likes of Twiggy and George Best, all four Beatles, Steve McQueen and the cast (and fans) of The Italian Job. Alec Issigonis designed the dinky Mini for British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1959. If you really wanted you could have a bespoke Bed Guru bed custom-made to fit perfectly on the back seat. 

5. Light Bulbs & Lava Lamps

Surely you have one or the decidedly psychedelic other on your bedside table. British inventor Joseph Swan gifted the world a 12 hour lightbulb in 1880 and just 83 years later, British accountant Edward Craven-Walker magicked up the lava lamp – inspired by a homemade egg-timer (a cocktail shaker filled with liquid) bubbling away on the stove.

6. The World Wide Web

No, not the internet, but Tim Berners-Lee’s invention certainly paved the way for this very website and, ultimately, Napflix – giving you a lot to thank our British computer scientist for, ever since the first web-page went live and explained ‘how to search’ in 1991. 

7. Stainless Steel

You can even sleep on this pioneering war time invention! British steelworker Harry Brearley created stainless steel to make gun barrels last longer in 1913 and since then it’s been used for a number of things including sturdy stainless steel bedframes for contemporary bedrooms. They’re cheaper than most wooden bedframes, giving you more money to invest in your mattress for the best night’s sleep. Life-changing.

8. The Electric Vacuum Cleaner

Technically, us Brits can also take credit for the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner, thanks to Sir James Dyson. But it was Hubert Cecil Booth who invented the first electric vacuum cleaner in 1901, when sucking up dust was revolutionary in a world that blew it away. His genius invention can be used to remove dust, skin flakes and flesh-eating dust mites from your mattress. It’s shocking to see what comes off your bed, even after a month!

9. The Modern Fire Extinguisher

You can’t imagine how many lives George William Manby’s Extincteur has saved since 1818 – when firemen struggling to fight a blaze on the top floor of a house in Edinburgh inspired him to fill a portable copper cask with four gallons of potassium carbonate, dispersed by compressed air via a stopcock. You can sleep easy, because all of our mattresses and divan bed bases are fire retardant.

If it’s ‘Made in Britain’, as our mattresses, divan bases and Landmark Collection are, it really is the best.

Lava Lamps copyright Dean Hochman licensed for use under Creative Commons.

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