HE WAS the scientific genius who created a revolutionary new means of transportation used by millions of people around the world.
Sir Christopher Cockerell, who lived in a three-bedroom house in Prospect Place, Hythe, was the driving force behind the invention of the hovercraft.
Now a blue plaque celebrating its success has been unveiled at a waterfront building where much of the research and development took place.
The plaque will be fixed to the front of The Grove in St John’s Street, Hythe later this week.
The honor was bestowed on Sir Christopher by the Hythe and Dibden Parish Council, one of the organizations based in the two-storey building.
Among the guests at the unveiling were some of the 150 people who worked there more than half a century ago.
They watched old news footage of a hovercraft arriving in Hythe and described the pioneering work done at The Grove in the 1960s.
Other guests included Philip Naylor, who is rebuilding Sir Christopher’s former home after buying it from the Cockerell family in 2020.
As the Daily Echo reported, it was damp and in disrepair, having been unoccupied for 21 years.
Sir Christopher invented the hovercraft after concluding that a cushion of air would make boats faster by reducing friction between the ship and the water.
He is famous for testing his theory using empty cans and a vacuum cleaner.
Much of the early work was done in East Anglia, but the designs were refined in The Grove offices. Shacks across the road served as workshops and laboratories.
The grove has a waterfront memorial to the man who made a unique contribution to the world of transportation.
The inscription reads: “At this site Sir Christopher Cockerell (1910-1999) and his team continued the early development of the hovercraft which he had first demonstrated in 1955.
“They also developed and tested hovercraft skirts in a wave tank built here in 1965. May this creative work inspire young engineers of the future.”
The Grove is a short walk from Myrtle Cottage, where the legendary Lawrence of Arabia lived in the early 1930s.
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