Burton On Trent History In Old Photos And Film

BBC2 Documentary About Tim Bedford (1980s/90s)

Published to YouTube on 12 Mar 2013 by Ted England.

Programme from BBC 2 in the late 1908s/the early 1990s. Tim Bedford first worked as an engineer at Rolls-Royce in Derby, gaining a degree in engineering after completing his apprenticeship and working on many major projects, particularly in developing fuel systems.

After moving to Burton in the early 1960s, Mr. Bedford conceived the idea of a small watercraft with an inboard engine and a propellor hidden in a tunnel below the waterline — the first jet ski. 

He was often seen trying out his prototypes on the River Trent and by 1970 his invention was featured on BBC television’s Tomorrow’s World and, more esoterically, used by evil aliens the Cybermen in Dr. Who in an episode filled on the River Avon in Bristol.

However, having taken many years to finally perfect his craft, which he called The SurfBlazer and which was manufactured by his company Dynamic Developments Ltd in Horninglow Street, the Ministry of Defence’s Naval Department placed a secrecy order on the completed invention for several months. 

His former wife, Olive Bedford, of Park Lane, Tutbury, said that was “a great cliff-hanger for his financial commitments, especially to his family.”

The SurfBlazer continued to be manufactured and sold from Horninglow Street until his financial backers decided they wanted to move the company to new premises in Ipswich. 

Mrs. Bedford said her then-husband, not wishing to be “harnessed” by big business, disposed of his patent rights and began work on his next project.

That proved how far ahead of his time he really was for, recognising the problems the planet’s finite fossil-fuel resources would eventually present, he worked on ways to run cars and diesel engines on methane and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) using a simple conversion kit.

Incredibly, there were at the time strict Government restrictions on how and when such engines could be used for fear of losing tax income from petrol and diesel sales, notwithstanding the environmental benefits.

However, following the oil crisis of the mid-1970s, his new company Blue Chip sold patents around the world and met dozens of political and scientific leaders.

Mrs. Bedford described her former husband as “a flamboyant figure around Stapenhill” and said:

 “Tim was a very brilliant engineer able to envisage a simple way of working out the most complicated of projects. As a creative engineer, he couldn’t be harnessed, which annoyed most of his financial backers. The sad end to this story is that at this moment in time, Tim died a poor man, but without a shadow of a doubt he was a very successful man. Worldwide patents are held by his company on his most exciting breakthrough — perfecting the running of diesel engines on LPG.” 

Mr. Bedford is survived by five children and four grandchildren.

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