Sir. Christopher Cockerell
Invented the Hovercraft
Died 1st. June 1999
Sir Christopher Cockerell was one of the most remarkable inventors of the 20th Century.
In his life he filed dozens of patents but it is as father of the hovercraft that history will remember him.
Born in 1910 near Cambridge, Sir Christopher's scientific bent was nurtured at Gresham's School at Holt in Norfolk.
He studied engineering at Cambridge University, and joined Marconi as a wireless engineer in 1935.
He produced 36 inventions for the company, for which he was paid £10 each.
In 1950 he left Marconi and bought a boat building/hire business on the Norfolk Broads.
He used a baked bean can and a firework in an early attempt to prove that a vehicle could float on air.
He finally proved that it was possible on Oulton Broad near Lowestoft in the early 1950s. The first commercial vessel crossed the channel in 1959.
Cockerell had to fight for years to get any financial recognition and he believed inventors often got a raw deal.
Sir Christopher Cockerell died on the 40th anniversary of the launch of the hovercraft, June 1st 1999.