Astounding Inventions (2022)

In 2022 we celebrated England's rich history of invention, industry and innovation with our theme of 'Astounding Inventions'. Whether it’ was transporting visitors back to the industrial revolution, examining the inventions that power our daily lives, highlighting the legacy of a local inventor, or showcasing cutting-edge innovations - we invited our festival community to showcase the diverse tapestry of English inventions that make our world go around.

What is an Astounding Invention?

Where would we be without steam trains? Computer algorithms? Chocolate bars? Or even toothbrushes? From innovative game-changing technologies to daily essentials, there are an overwhelming number of inventions that sit within our theme and are part of England's heritage. Primarily, events focused on an invention or an inventor, but it was important for us to highlight that astounding inventions don’t have to be successful ones! We welcomed stories of wonders, blunders, and even short-lived oddities, or outright failure.

Why Astounding Inventions?

Uncovering places, people, and stories that traditional history has overlooked or forgotten has always been at the very heart of Heritage Open Days. Inventions are integral to daily life and yet so easily their historical significance and the inventors behind them can be overlooked, particularly given just how many inventions have been founded in England. We wanted to challenge the risk of forgetfulness, by asking our community to celebrate the legacy of English invention.

Sharing the stories

With a little inspiration from our resource pack and a lot of local ingenuity organisers planned 623 events for the theme - from a town tour of gas lamps to a lawnmower museum and a gadget trail.

We also published a series of popular blog posts highlighting astounding inventions from the worlds of engineering, archaeology, medicine and gardening to share more inspiration and their stories: