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  Inventor Trevor Baylis
Updated 18 March 2002, 19.55

We got into the spirit of Science Week with top inventor Trevor Baylis.

He dished out tips on inventions, the inspiration behind his famous clockwork radio and passed on hints of how you could step into his shoes.

Click on the video icon to watch the full interview, or scroll down for the text version.

  Watch chat  

Click on each question to read Trevor's answers:

Emma, 11, Walsall
What inspired you to invent the Clockwork Radio?

TB: I was watching a TV programme about some terrible disease in Africa which was killing so many people. The only way they could get information out to these people was through radio. But there was a problem. People weren't able to receive radio messages simply because there was no electricity in Africa. And the only other form of electricity available for radios was batteries, but batteries were horrendously expensive and people couldn't obtain them. And in fact I just thought of the old fashioned gramophone (record player) which had a handle on it. And I thought there we are, you wind the thing up and the spring when you release it then drives a small dynamo which in turn drives a radio and it is as simple as that.

Emma, 11, Oldham
What inspired you to invent things?

TB: Well first of all put aside any peculiar idea that you have to be someone exceptional to invent something. If you can solve a problem you are on your way to becoming an inventor and we all solve problems. But really what is peculiar is that sometimes we solve a problem in a peculiar way, in a way which perhaps the rest of us have never done it before. So if you trip over the carpet for example you might say shall we nail it down. That is the first thing you do, but if you haven't paid for the carpet that might be a silly thing to do. So you might come up with the invention of a piece of plastic to put on the edge of the carpet and screw it down. You have invented something, simply because you tripped over the carpet.

Joshua, 9, Sunbury
Have you got any tips for young inventors?

TB: The first thing to remember is, that nobody pays you for a good idea but they might pay you for a piece of paper which says you own that idea. Now this is either a patent, design registration right or a trademark or a copyright, so the first thing you should do is ask about intellectual property. Get on to the patent office in Wales, and get their inventor's pack and then you will learn all about it. The first thing you have got to do is try and secure that piece of paper.

Patent Office Info Pack:
Tel 08459 500 505

Stephanie, 10, Dalkieth
What age did you start inventing?

TB: I started when I was about four or five. My parents were absolutely amazed that I could take everyday objects and perhaps reproduce them in models using a construction kit. So I guess I have always been sort of creative in that sense all my life. And I dare say you guys and girls out there are likewise.

Claire, 11, Bournemouth
Of any great invention in the world, which one thing do you wish you had invented?

TB: I have always said the jet engine, that is the one for me. And 21-year-old Frank Whittle invented that back in 1930. When you think of the size of the world now and how it has shrunk as a result of that jet engine, I wish I had been Frank Whittle.

Julie, 13, Manchester
Has everything you have invented been useful or are any of your inventions just for fun?

TB: Firstly most of my inventions are for fun. I always follow my heart and I always say to people follow your heart. Do what gives you most pleasure, if you can work and get a job that gives you the most pleasure, that will give you far far more than just money, you will have fun and quality of life

William, 11, Stroud
What's your favourite invention?

TB: A lot of people don't know this, but I made a whole range of products that were originally called Orange Aids, these were aids for the disabled. I used to be a stunt man and most of my working life I worked in the circus. A lot of my stunt player friends broke arms, shoulders or even worse, and so therefore in a strange way disabled people and stunt players are kin folk. Many of my mates needed bits of kit in order to get through their day. The ones that gave me the most fun and pleasure and I am most proud of are those peculiar products that were designed to enable you to use a book whilst you are in your wheelchair or a pair of binoculars or a camera, things that could fit on to your wheelchair, on your bed, on your seat or wherever.

Victoria, 10
What does it feel like knowing people will be using your inventions?

TB: Oh that is tremendous - you know it is rather nice to be known for your inventions. So many inventors unfortunately are ripped off. You have a great idea and then somebody comes along and steals that idea. They get all the media hype and yet you as the original inventor are lost into obscurity. I think because I have always made a lot of noise, I purposely made sure that my name was entwined with my product. If you want that publicity it is very very useful for you if you can get your name on the product.

More InfoBORDER=0
ClubBritish Invention Show press packer


Past StoriesBORDER=0
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Hands off my lunch, says young inventor



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