Concrete is in the running to be declared ‘Britain’s Greatest Invention’ as part of a new BBC television show celebrating the best of UK innovation. During the programme, which airs live from the Science Museum on BBC2 at 8:30pm on 15, viewers will be able to vote online to decide which invention takes the title.
The most used man-made substance on Earth faces tough competition for the title however, and will have to overcome six other seminal British inventions: antibiotics, the fridge, the jet engine, the mobile phone, the steam engine and the television. Championing the case for concrete will be ‘DIY SOS’ presenter Nick Knowles, who has called concrete the ‘unsung hero’ of the seven contenders.
Portland cement, the key ingredient in concrete and mortar, was invented in 1824 by Joseph Aspdin of Leeds. Over the past two centuries, his invention has shaped horizons across the globe, with 70 per cent of the world’s population now living in homes made with the material. Concrete has shaped modern society, providing affordable housing and quite literally laying the foundations of the welfare state. Aspdin’s invention has also played its part in some of history’s most decisive moments: as one of the only materials capable of withstanding the thrust of a rocket launch, it was critical in putting man on the moon.
From the space race to city living, concrete has shaped the modern world, but it will be up to the public to decide whether this is enough to make it ‘Britain’s Greatest Invention’.
To vote for concrete, viewers can visit the BBC2 website during the programme.