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Page last updated at 06:11 GMT, Saturday, 9 August 2008 07:11 UK
Tony Benn's world of invention

Tony Benn with rucksack bag

Tony Benn has long been associated with the left wing of the Labour Party but few know of his sideline as an inventor. His most prized work is the “backbencher”, a rucksack with stool attached.

Benn on the campaign trail in his home built car chair

As minister of technology Benn oversaw the construction of hi-tech projects including the Concorde. That did not stop him bolting together a car mounted chair for his 1970 re-election campaign.

Tony Benn's pocket pen case

“They’re not really inventions, they're more like improvements,” he says. “You have a need, you look to see if anyone meets it and adapt what’s there to suit your purposes.”

Tony Benn with the suitcase lecturn

One such adaptation from his time as a minister for industry in Harold Wilson’s government was to convert his ministerial briefcase so that it could be used as a lectern for public speaking.

Parking map

And parking in his local area was so bad that Benn made this magnetic map so he and his wife, who died in 2000, could locate the their far-flung vehicles in the morning.

Tony Benn takes a seat on his seat case

Benn offered his “seat-case” invention to Virgin boss Richard Branson, and even gave him an advertising slogan - "Virgin gives you a seat from your home to your destination". He hasn't heard back yet.




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