The Solent Forum

Working in partnership for the future

Solent Inventions

Dry Dock

King Henry VII built worlds first dry dock in Portsmouth, 1495

Dreadnought Battleship

The first of these revolutionary battleships, HMS Dreadnought, was built at Portsmouth Dockyard in just four months, just before the outbreak of the First World War in 1906.

Mulberry Harbours

The floating Mulberry Harbours were used in the D-Day landings at Normandy. They were built at Southampton and Portsmouth Docks.


The Hovercraft was the design of Christopher Cockerell. The contract to design and construct the first man carrying hovercraft in the world, under his guidance, the 20ft SR.N1 was given to Saunders-Roe of Cowes. The first flight of the seven-ton craft was on 31st May 1959 and it was released to the press on 11th June of that year.

Super Marine

The “Super Marine” was the name given to PB1, the first of Pemberton-Billing and Scott-Paine’s flying boats, built at Woolston, Southampton

Air Port

The worlds first ‘Air Port’ was located at Woolston, Southampton. The name was used for the passenger terminal of flying boat services between there and the Channel Islands. The term continues to be used today to describe any suitable site designed for the take-off and landing of civilian aircraft, from land or water.

Supermarine Spitfire and Seafire

The Spitfire was the fighter plane that fought off the German Luftwaffe during WW2, along with the Hawker Hurricane. It was developed by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer of Supermarine. The Spitfire fighter, Mitchell’s masterpiece was designed and built at Supermarine’s factory at Woolston and first flew from Eastleigh Airport on 5 March 1936. Spitfires continued to be mass produced around the Solent along with naval Seafires, and of the total 22,000 or so Spitfires and Seafires built, approximately one fifth were constructed in the Solent region.

Pulley Block Machinery

In 1809 the engineer Marc Isambard Brunel (father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel) devised the great innovation of machine tools for the production of rigging pulley blocks for the Navy, who used 100,000 of these blocks every year. This was the first use of machine tools for  mass production and the first use of steam-powered manufactory in any dockyard.


Peter Chilvers invented windsurfing in 1958 at Fleet Creek, Hayling Island.