The Victorian era was a critical time for inventors, who paved the way for creation of many important components that created a more modern life. Inventors from the Victorian era range in a wide variety of inventions.
An amazing creation of the Victorian era is by Alexander Parkes. He invented the first man-made celluloid (plastic) in England in 1856. Besides plastic, Parkes was also the inventor responsible for a patented process of desilvering lead which proved to be a more cost-effective method of removing the zince from the lead in a liquifying process.
Sir Charles Wheatstone was a scientist and credited with a few inventions during the Victorian era. Mostly, Wheatstone is remembered his contributions alongside Samuel Hunter Christie in creating the Wheatstone bridge. However, Wheatstone’s inventions during the Victorian era were related to telegraphy and music. In 1840, Wheatsone invented stereoscopic imaging, a predecessor to what is considered 3-D imaging today. A few years later, he invented the Concertina, a “free-reed” instrument similar to a harmonica, in 1844.
A main railway inventor of the Victorian era was George Stephenson, a mechanical engineer, who also goes by the name “father of railways.” Credit goes to Stephenson for the first railway to be used by the general public for steam locomotives during the Victorian era. His invention of the rail gauge is commonly referred to the “Stephenson gauge” and is considered the standard gauge for railways today.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
One inventor of significant contributions to the Victorian era was Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Brunel is best known for his creation of the Great Western Railway and his contributions of the creation of tunnels, brigdes and ships. Brunel is credited with building dozens of bridges throughout the UK, including one of the oldest wrought iron bridges, known as the Windsor Railway Bridge. His ship, the Great Eastern, was mostly known for it’s Transatlantic shipments and voyages.
John Boyd Dunlop
Another Victorian inventor was John Boyd Dunlop, one of the founders of the rubber company Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company. Dunlop invented the first pneumatic (inflatable) tire. His first creation of this was intended for his son’s tricycle in 1887.
Joseph Wilson Swan
And one of the greatest creations still widely used today was Joseph Wilson Swan’s incandescent lightbulb in 1878. Swan was credited with the invention just before Thomas Edison. Swan was both a physicist and a chemist and owner of the Swan Electric Light Company. Edison and Swan were partners to create the Edison & Swan United Light Company in 1883, which later became General Electric.
One of the most popular, and memorable for his name, is Thomas Crapper. Crapper was a plumber and founder of the Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd. in London. For years, many were lead to believe that it was Crapper who created the flush toilet—however, this is incorrect. He is credited with the flush toilet’s rise to popularity and acceptance, as well as his assistance in some related inventions.