Christopher Cockerell (Inventor)
Gay Bowers Cottage, Danbury (erected 2002)
Sir Christopher Sydney Cockerell (1910 to 1999) was an English engineer and inventor of the hovercraft.
He was born and educated in Cambridge and started working for the Marconi company in 1935. Whilst working for Marconi during World War II, he contributed to the development of radar systems. Churchill believed that this development had a significant effect on the outcome of the war. Cockerell believed it to be one of his greatest achievements. Between 1940 and 1951, Cockerell and his wife lived at Gay Bowers Cottage in Danbury.
In 1955, he tested his hovercraft theory using a hair-dryer and two cans and found his hypothesis to be true. The idea was not an immediate success, and he was forced to sell personal possessions in order to finance his research.
By 1959, a prototype craft was crossing the English Channel between Dover and Calais and in 1969, Cockerell was knighted for his services to engineering.