The hovercraft was invented by Sir Christopher Cockerell whilst he owned and worked at Ripplecraft, the boatyard in Somerleyton. From 1953 to 1956 as well as designing and building hire craft for the Broads Sir Christopher “worked on the problem of making boats go faster”. He was attempting to make boat propulsion more energy efficient and one of his experiments was to inject air under the hull of his launch Spray. From this work he developed a working hovercraft model. Unable to take the development further without aid Sir Christopher demonstrated the model to Lord Somerleyton on the lawn at Somerleyton Hall. Lord Somerleyton was impressed and arranged for Sir Christopher to demonstrate the model to Lord Mountbatten who was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time. Eventually the National Research & Development Corporation backed the project, Sir Christopher and his family moved to the South Coast and the prototype SR-N1 was built and crossed the English Channel on 25th July 1959 to widespread acclaim.