It all began with a tin of cat food, an empty coffee tin and a hairdryer. When air was forced between the two tins, the ensemble began to float on its own little cushion of air. Thus, through a combination of eccentricity and genius, Sir Christopher Cockerell invented the hovercraft, in a shed, in a boatyard, in Norfolk. For years afterwards, the invention was kept top secret, as the government wanted to explore its military potential. But on 11 June 1959, the SRN-1 was finally unveiled to the world's press, at the Saunders Roe boatyard at Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
One spin-off of Sir Christopher Cockerell's invention has been the hover mower. Like its counterpart, it works on the principle of a cushion of air. The leading brand, Flymo, has a 40% share of the British lawnmower market. But although gardeners in the UK have adopted the hover technology in their millions, very few of the mowers are exported. Brian Milligan for the BBC