6 weird inventions in history

Throughout history, inventors have produced weird, wonderful and sometimes dangerous gadgets. Here, we round up six of the strangest…

The ‘Spruce Girls’ wearing their specially made wooden bathing suits in 1929.

1) Wooden bathing suits

In 1929, a group of women nicknamed the ‘Spruce Girls’ donned some specially made spruce wood swimming costumes and posed for photos on a beach in Hoquiam, Washington. The women were promoting the Grays Harbor timber trade during ‘Wood Week’ – a promotional scheme to advertise local lumber businesses.

Despite catching the attention of nearby residents and the press, the trend for wooden swimming costumes never caught on.

 

2) The gas-resistant pram

By 1938, the prospect of Britain entering into war with Germany looked increasingly likely. With this in mind, FW Mills from Kent designed a large pram to protect babies and toddlers from gas attacks that might feature in air raids.

The pram was designed as such that a child could be placed inside on a small bed, and a lid would be fastened over the top. The child would then receive a supply of fresh air from a gas filter attached to the top of the lid. A rubber bulb was also added to the end of the pram to push out the stale air.

A woman using the gas-resistant pram. (Credit: © Chronicle / Alamy)

 

3) A motorised bathtub

In 1960, a new mode of transport appeared on the streets of Kingston in Surrey. Three students decided to attach wheels and a motor to a bathtub, and drove the bath around the busy Kingston High Street – much to the bewilderment of the locals.

With a rear view mirror made from a bath brush and a rubber duck acting as a horn, the motorised bath was created by three students from the local technical college to raise money for charities' week.

Below is a British Pathé video of the bathtub in action - please refresh the page if it fails to display properly.

 

4) The monowheel

Why have two wheels when you can cycle to your destination on just one? Rousseau of Marseilles thought just that when he designed the monowheel in 1869. The driver would sit inside an enormous wheel, which was just over two metres high, and they would control the steering by simply maintaining their balance – there was no proper steering device.

In the early 20th century, some designs of monowheels were improved by the addition of small engines and aeroplane propellers to help with the steering. Many different models emerged over the years, but the monowheel never caught on as a popular mode of transport.

A man sitting in the Nilsson monowheel in 1935. (Credit: FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 

5) A radio-controlled lawn mower

In the 1950s, a gadget emerged that allowed people to sit back and relax as their garden was trimmed by a radio-controlled lawn mower.

This ingenious lawn mower, which travelled at around two miles per hour, was first displayed to the public in Britain at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1959. Members of the royal family, including the Queen and Prince Philip, took an interest in the gadget during their visit to the show.

The radio-controlled lawn mower on show at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1959. (Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

 

6) An extreme cigarette holder

Smoking enjoyed great popularity throughout the 20th century, and one cigarette was simply not enough for some people – one inventor in the 1950s therefore created a cigarette holder that could carry not just one, but a whole pack of cigarettes.

Surprisingly, this was not the first unusual smoking device invented. In the 1930s, a cigarette holder was developed to hold a single cigarette in a vertical position, while a small umbrella hovered over the top in order to prevent the cigarette from getting wet in the rain.

Model Frances Richards smokes a pack of cigarettes all on one cigarette holder, c1955. (Credit: Jacobsen/Getty Images)

 

This article was published online as part of our Weird History Week - a celebration of all things weird and wonderful! We'll be exploring unusual foods, pets and medical practices through history; historical superstitions; the politics of hair, plus much more!

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