British Rail's Flying Saucer - David Wardell
The case raises many questions. Was it a prank? – unlikely when one considers the costs involved. Was it a case of speculative patenting? – hoping that the technology would catch up. Or is there, under a tarpaulin, in a dark shed, in some hidden siding, the real thing? Let’s examine the evidence…
The major railway engineering works of the day were based at Crewe, Doncaster, Derby and York. Could prototyping efforts account for the unexplained ‘blip’ of UFO sightings which occurred in th North of England in the mid 1970’s?
In the current climate of privatisation, who will obtain the inter-planetary routes and necessary equipment?
In the light of this revolutionary technology, was the Channel Tunnel a complete and utter waste of money and resources?
Instead of leaves, llamas and other sundry blockages on the line, will future excuses include meteor storms and inclement solar winds?
As controlled nuclear fusion is the holy grail of the power industry, shouldn’t BR be sharing its secrets for the benefit of us all?
Does BR intend to supply this service from every station or will passengers still have to change at Waterloo?
In the event of signal failure, with possibly disastrous consequences, will British Nuclear Fuels be contracted to clean up the mess. Not to mention the fallout?
This true but ‘tongue in cheek’ feature first appeared in 1996. Much to my surprise, the press had a field day. The inventor, Charles Osmond Frederick, worked as an engineer for British Rail. It was company policy that all work invented by employees was patented. A spokesman said: ‘British Rail never had an interest in space travel’. Pity really, it’s such a great story.
There is always a constant stream of strange flying machine patents - from the bizarre to the practical – but it’s not very often you will see a thermonuclear powered flying saucer. In this case it’s even more astonishing when you see that the patent was filed by the British Railways Board and not by, perhaps, British Aerospace. The original patent application (GB13120990) was filed on 11th December 1970 and spoke of a ‘lifting platform’. The complete specification was filed 10th March 1972 and had now been changed to a ‘space vehicle’ – the specification was published on 21st March 1973.