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Inventor or comedian?

This month’s talk at Liphook U3A was entitled “Inspiration for my Inventions” by Trevor Bayliss, inventor of the wind up radio.

From the very start of this talk Trevor had his audience’s full attention and almost rolling in the isles with laughter. It seems that as a young lad during WW2 and the fact that his school had been flattened did not hold him back and he was certainly grateful for what his parents taught him. A big box of Meccano, given to him by a neighbour, contributed to him wanting to make things. He loved swimming and swam competitively as a lad before going off to do his National Service, with the Army Physical Training Corps.

Back in civvy street, he became a stunt man for Peter Cook and Dudley Moore before going on to be an underwater escapologist. Taking things more seriously, he went into the swimming pool business and started making little inventions.

It is the wind up radio that brought him fame and he told of the great difficulty he had getting anyone interested. Despite his having produced a working model, everyone, but everyone told him it would not work, but eventually that great South African, Nelson Mandela, saw it and gave him full support to get it off the ground. The thing that had inspired Trevor to invent this, the lack of electricity in much of Africa and thinking back to wind up gramophones, was eventually recognised in Africa where it would be of most use.

A good deal of his talk was about how other great inventors, such as Frank Whittle (jet engine) and Christopher Cockerell (hovercraft), had suffered in the same way, frequently interspersed with humorous comments and jokes - he obviously learnt something while working with Cook and Moore!. These struggles for recognition by almost all British inventors is something he takes very seriously and he now spends much of his time helping and supporting current inventors.

At the conclusion of his talk he was happy to answer several questions from the audience and still stayed on to chat with members over a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Liphook U3A meets on the first Monday of the month at The Millennium Centre. At the next one, on 4th February, Anthony Slinn, DipFA : NDD Hons, will give a talk on Masterpieces of the 20th century.

On 4th March the talk will be Savill Garden and the Royal Landscape by Harvey Stephens Kew Dip.Hort

Meetings start at 2.00 p.m.

Further information at www.liphooku3a.org.uk

Article posted on: 14 January 2013

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