Sir Christopher Cockerell, engineer and inventor, 6 September 1973.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Cockerell (1910-1999) invented the world's first Hovercraft, the 'SRNI' in June 1959. After being a research scientist at Marconi, Cockerell acquired a small shipyard on the Norfolk Broads near Lowestoft, Suffolk. It was there that he experimented with the SRNI, using a curtain of high-presure air ejected from the rim of the craft to 'float' the hull. Cushion, curtain and forward thrust were provided by a single engine. Hovercraft have been produced to travel over land and sea all over the world.