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May 2002
Amazing facts: Nottinghamshire inventors
Find out about a Nottingham shopkeeper who invented the recipe for HP Sauce, the deepest-toned bell in Britain...and many more
amazing facts about local inventors and innovations.
9th May 2002
Did you know...
An inventor from Nottingham has just come up with a product that can dry moisture out of boots and clothing.

Testing the Dampire
Testing the Dampire
Guy Tinsley from Cotgrave has developed a pouch containing a chemical crystal that acts like a giant sponge.

It goes into something like a boot and draws out the moisture, preventing damp and mould.

The Dampire can be dried out on a radiator, in a microwave or by hanging from a rucksack and then used time and time again.

Did you Know....
cat with eyes
Not these sort of cat eyes!
It was a Nottingham man who invented "cats eyes" found along the centre of most European roads.

The British cats eyes are two glass spheres embedded in rubber.

The weight of a passing car will depress the spheres and clean them. [Source:]
Did you know...
Nottingham was the first city to install Braille signs for blind people in its shopping centres.
Did you know...
A Nottingham shopkeeper invented the recipe for HP Sauce, but missed the chance of making his fortune, when he traded the recipe with a Midlands' vinegar company to settle a debt!

HP Sauce
HP Sauce
Garton's HP Sauce was developed by FG Garton, who ran a small grocery shop in Nottingham.

He called the sauce HP because he claimed to have heard that it was available in a restaurant in the Houses of Parliament.

A businessman called in on Mr Garton with regard to some unpaid bills and noticed his sauce-making activities. The recipe and brand were sold for £150 and the cancellation of the debt.

HP is known as `Wilson's Gravy' after Harold Wilson, the Labour Prime Minister of the 1960s and 1970s, who was rumoured to cover his food with HP Sauce.

[Sources: and]
Did you know...
Little John is the deepest-toned bell in Britain, weighing 10.5 tonnes.

Little John
Little John
It hangs below the 200-foot dome of Nottingham's Council House clock, and strikes the hour.

It sounds out the time to the city every 15 minutes and is believed to be the loudest clock bell in the country.


Did you know...
James Hargreaves fled from Lancashire when his new invention the Spinning Jenny was wrecked by fellow weavers.

He settled in Nottingham, where he built a small spinning mill off Lower Parliament Street in 1767.

His invention resulted in massive changes in the spinning industry, but he died in obscurity in a Nottingham workhouse in 1777.


Did you know...
Born in 1793, the son of a Nottingham miller, George Green was a mathematical genius much admired by Albert Einstein.

Green's Windmill
Green's Windmill
He had just one year of formal education, yet his work was the beginning of modern mathematical physics.

Green worked in a study at the top of his father's Sneinton windmill.

Now restored to full working order, the mill contains 'hands-on' science museum, which reflects Green's work.
Did you know...
ball of yarn and a knitting needle
Ball of yarn and a knitting needle
William Lee, a Calverton clergyman, invented the first stocking knitting machine in 1589.

Queen Elizabeth I feared it would cause unemployment.

Lee was forced to take his frame to France.
Did you know...
The first aerial press photo was taken in Nottingham in 1910.
Did you know...
Nottingham set up the first police forensic laboratory in 1934. It also sent the first radio message by police car in 1932.
Did you know...
Professor Don Grierson of the University of Nottingham led the team that produced the first genetically engineered tomato.

The tomato was the first genetically modified plant food to be approved for sale on both sides of the Atlantic.
Did you know...
Shin guards for football were invented in Nottingham in the late 19th Century.

shin pad
Shin pad
In 1865 a group of youngsters attached to St. Andrew's Church on Mansfield Road, Nottingham, formed a football club and since they played on the Forest Recreation Ground, the town's racecourse, they called themselves Nottingham Forest.

Hacking of shins, tripping and elbowing were allowed and the goalkeeper could be charged out of the way of a shot even if he was nowhere near the ball.

Forest were the first team to wear the shin guards, invented by club player Samuel Widdowson in 1874.

It sounds like they were needed!
Did you know...
James Samuel Archer, 1854-1920, was the co-inventor of the famous Sturmey-Archer gears, the three-speed bicycle gears. He lived in Nottingham, and worked at the Raleigh Cycle Company.
Did you know...
army tank
Army tank
A Nottingham man was partly responsible for modern mechanical warfare when he came up with the idea of the tank.

His invention was turned down by the War Office as 'too cranky', but the first tanks were eventually manufactured in 1915.

The Tank was developed in Grantham and enjoyed limited success in WWI.
Did you know...
Nottingham had the country's first two miles of wooden track, which connected coal mines in Strelley and Wollaton. It was laid in 1604.
Did you know...
Nottingham had the country's first high-pressure water supply.

In 1830 the Waterworks Company abandoned and the River Leen as their source of supply in favour of purer spring water collected in a reservoir of about one acre at Scotholme, Basford.

Papplewick pumping station
Papplewick pumping station
Water from the reservoir was fed by gravity through a 10-inch iron pipe to a new pumping station on the River Leen at the foot of the Castle Rock. It was then pumped to the reservoir close to the General Hospital.

The pumps at the Castle Works could be driven either by a water wheel or a rotative beam engine of about 16 HP each. The new Trent Waterworks Company opened its works near the present Town Arms at Trent Bridge in 1831.

This remarkable system, the first in the country to provide a supply at constant high pressure - preventing contamination from entering the mains - was constructed under supervision of its designer, 25-year-old company engineer Thomas Hawksley.
[Source: []
Did you know...
Nottingham Trent University crest
Nottingham Trent University crest
Nottingham Trent University's fashion courses are world famous.

So is its high-tech research for the textiles trade.

This research brought about the world's first virtual-reality catwalk.

Did you Know...
The inventors of the video recorder were two Nottingham men, Norman Rutherford and Michael Turner, in 1957.

video cassette
Modern-day video
Before video equipment, all video recordings consisted of cine film.

Video recording took off very quickly in the industry and is in use now daily in the home too.

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