Inventor of the thermostat controls for the cordless kettle visits Sibford
- 2 October 2018 -
John, who holds many hundreds of patents for domestic appliances, thermostats and electrical equipment, is probably most famous for inventing the thermostat controls for the cordless kettle. It’s been calculated that over two billion of his bi-metal blades – used in thermostats to switch off kettles – have been produced since their invention in the 1970s. He also holds four Queen’s Awards, three for Export and one for Innovation.
But, as he told pupils, it could have been a very different story when, as a young lad, his parents struggled to find a school who would have him after he failed the 11 plus, 13 plus and common entrance exam.
“I’m dyslexic,” explained the 81-year-old. “which meant I had to overcome a number of difficulties. However, I view that as a blessing as it prepares you to think around the difficulties you will go on to face in life.”
Having struggled to get into school, John went on to gain a place at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge and after graduating joined his father’s company making thermostats.
“I found I could invent,” he told pupils. “My first job was to invent a control for an electric cooling fan for the new Jaguar E type and since then I’ve filed over 400 patents.
“I’ve had a lot of fun over the years. I can go almost anywhere in the world and see an electric kettle knowing that inside it is one of my inventions.
“I never have regrets. My advice is to make a decision based on the information available at the time. Never go back and think ‘what if’, always go forwards. Many people walk around seeing … but I walk around looking. If you notice things you can do something about them. My challenge to you is to invent something, change the world and most importantly … have fun.”