In the 19th century it was recognised that ships wasted a great deal of energy on the friction between the hull and the water. Experiments were conducted on reducing this friction by creating a stream of air bubbles on which the hull could rest - all with little success.
In the 1950s Christopher Cockerell (1910-99) left his job as a research engineer at the Marconi Company and acquired a shipyard on the Norfolk Broads near Lowestoft, where he returned to the problem of friction between water and hull. Cockerell improved on the earlier work, creating a craft that rested on a stable cushion of air.
In 1956 the research branch of the Ministry of Supply took an interest in the project. This support enabled a prototype of the hovercraft called SR-N1 to be completed in 1959, and in July of that year it successfully crossed the English Channel. Hovercraft have been successfully used as ferries, assault craft and survey vessels.
- East Anglia
- Lowestoft, Norfolkshire
- Key Individuals
- Christopher Cockerell,