The Mother of Invention Weekend; It Is a Truism That Birmingham Was Founded upon Ideas. from Lawn Tennis to Coinage, the Ingenuity of Birmingham People Has Changed the World. Next Month Birmingham Book Festival, in Conjunction with Citigate Communications, Will Be Looking for Birmingham's Most Inspirational Idea. Here, Jo Ind Outlines Ten of the Best

The Birmingham Post (England), September 20, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Mother of Invention Weekend; It Is a Truism That Birmingham Was Founded upon Ideas. from Lawn Tennis to Coinage, the Ingenuity of Birmingham People Has Changed the World. Next Month Birmingham Book Festival, in Conjunction with Citigate Communications, Will Be Looking for Birmingham's Most Inspirational Idea. Here, Jo Ind Outlines Ten of the Best


Byline: Jo Ind

X-rays

The first time an X-ray was taken for medical purposes was in the Queen's Hospital in Birmingham.

X-rays had been discovered before, by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in his laboratory at the University of Wurzburg in Bavaria on November 8 1895, but it took a Moseley GP to turn the discovery into a technique that could be used in patient care.

As well as being a GP, John HallEdwards, was an amateur photographer and he was quick to test the technique. He asked Queen's Hospital for a suitable candidate.

Hall-Edwards used the X-ray to locate a surgical needle left in the patient after an operation. This was the first diagnostic use of X-rays in Britain. When the Boer War broke out, he went to the front line and was the first person to use X-rays in a military setting to diagnose fractures and look for bullets.

He made the equipment himself and X-rayed about 2,000 soldiers after they were wounded.

Before Hall-Edward's pioneering radiology, fractures went undetected and scans which can now be used to detect cancer and other diseases simply didn't exist.

The doctor also contributed to an understanding of radiation. He lost both his hands as a result of his work, although after his limbs were amputated he X-rayed them to discover more about the impact of the waves. The hands he lost survive in the University of Birmingham Medical School.

Lawn tennis

Every year at Wimbledon some commentator will describe Britain as the home of lawn tennis.

To be strictly accurate, they would have to say the game came from a garden in Ampton Road, Edgbaston.

Tennis has a long and complicated history, so it is true to say its creation was entirely down to an ingenious Brummie.

There were games involving a ball and racquet played for centuries before, not least during the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome.

In France, during the eleventh century, there was a sport, called tenez -meaning 'take it' or 'play' which was played indoors or in courtyards and involved players hitting a hair-filled cloth bag to and fro.

It became known as real tennis in Britain, or royal tennis or court tennis in other parts of the world.

But it was in 1858 that a Birmingham solicitor by the name of Harry Gem had the idea which was to form the basis of lawn tennis.

He was experimenting with the game in his Edgbaston garden with his friend Batista Pereira, a Spanish merchant with offices in Great Charles Street in central Birmingham, when he had the idea of transferring what were then the dimensions of the real tennis court to his lawn.

After both men moved to Leamington Spa in 1872 they began playing the game together with two doctors from the Warneford Hospital on the lawn behind the Manor House Hotel. Two years later, they formed the Leamington Tennis Club, setting out the rules which form the basis of the modern game.

The first Wimbledon championships began three years later when the All England Croquet Club decided to hold the First Gentlemen's Singles Championships.

Pneumatic tyre

If the wheel was man's greatest invention, then the pneumatic tyre, must come a close second.

Tyres as we know them were invented by John Dunlop, in 1888, after watching his son ride a tricycle.

At the time, tyres were made of solid rubber, which was very uncomfortable when riding a bike over cobbled ground. Dunlop thought there must be a solution to the problem, and so he wrapped the wheels in thin rubber sheets, glued them together and inflated them with a football pump for a cushioning effect.

This was the first pneumatic tyre. He patented the idea, giving his fledgling Dunlop tyre company a head start over automotive competitors.

He lived in Ireland at the time, but it was in Birmingham that the manufacturing of the tyre came into its own. …

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The Mother of Invention Weekend; It Is a Truism That Birmingham Was Founded upon Ideas. from Lawn Tennis to Coinage, the Ingenuity of Birmingham People Has Changed the World. Next Month Birmingham Book Festival, in Conjunction with Citigate Communications, Will Be Looking for Birmingham's Most Inspirational Idea. Here, Jo Ind Outlines Ten of the Best
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