Voices in the Coalshed: 'The Best Thing Since'

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A huge thank you to everybody who contributed to September's Voices in the Coalshed activity, where, inspired by our new exhibition 'A Light in the Darkness', Dave asked you to think of the best invention ever and why.
We had some fantastic suggestions, and Dave's even created an original poem using parts from each! Watch to see Dave perform 'The Best Thing Since'.

Check out the submissions that inspired Dave's poem in full below!

September’s Submissions

Toilet paper

Without it the world would come to a sticky end.

Alan France



Penicillin (and derivatives)  anti-biotic.

Cured bacteriological infections and saved
millions of lives. When an infection appeared which it cannot cure the
world is thrown into chaos.


The bulk manufacture of Nitrates.
Used as fertilizer it doubled the arable productivity of land.


Hydraulic roof supports in deep coal mining.
Firstly hand used then powered, trebled the productivity of longwall face mining.

M. J. Keeton


I think the best invention is the printing press, because it brought the written word to a large audience for the very first time and helped new ideas to spread around the world much more quickly and easily. It also increased literacy rates and improved education.

Kate Fraser


One of the best inventions is a knot called a bowline.
It is easy to tie, easy to untie, does the job it is intended for and can save your life. 

Roger Morton


Woven cotton fabric.
Gave underwear and literacy to the world!

Nicola Harrison


The Camera

Because photographs help us to keep precious memories alive and make loved ones feel nearer when we are apart. Photographs are also important to give us a 'window' into the past that helps to bring written history to life.

Pam Utley


To me the best invention was the steam engine it changed the industrial revolution.

Bill Web



  Original design has altered little since its invention . Just refinements .
  Eco / green friendly . Non polluting .
  Saves space parking and around town .
  Aids keep fit and health .
  Cheap , simple maintainance .
  First step to independence and prosperity in third world / developing nations .
  Enables girls’ education in these places , as the long walks to school from their remote villages      are dangerous , and many are waylayed by men and / or wild animals if on foot . Making the        choice to stay at home instead .
  I donated a bike to a charity which repairs them and then ships them to Africa solely for this        purpose.
Janet Carter


What would we do without ZOOM?  I am in total awe of whoever produced it - in these very difficult times it's amazing and so beneficial for people to work from home but also for others to join club discussions and exercise classes.  Even my husband is now a yoga convert.

Just as early Mining engineers and inventors helped to make life safer and more productive, ZOOM has made lockdown and restrictions easier to bear, and particularly from a social aspect, e.g. Missing the museum.

Pam Waites


The ‘bic’ throw away pen

Because it meant that the power of  writing was made instantly available, was inexpensive and easy to use and no-one ever again got into trouble for losing or mis-using a pen.

Sally-ann Burley


PVA glue: low ecological impact (no volatiles, non-poisonous, not damaging to the skin), sticks a wide range of materials together well, dries to colourless, sets reasonably quickly but with a period when it is easy to correct or reposition the materials being glued, and can often be 'unglued' without significant damage. Safe for children and allows clandestine corrections to be made in their work, and good for the less competent modeller who may value the opportunity for a second chance at a bond (don't ask me how I know this). I can expound on PVA's virtues at length if required. 

David Cross


The telephone, controversial in terms of who first came up with idea versus who first registered their design for patent.

It’s a great invention because it increased the speed of communication between people who were unable to connect face-to-face and paved the way for the modern voice communications we enjoy today at work and at home. My mobile phone, powered by mined minerals, has been my lockdown saviour.

Nicola Palmer


My lines are the steam engine

Bob Jones


The steam railway locomotive.

It meant that we could distribute goods in bulk and everyone could travel from A to B much more safely and quickly.

Joan Tozer


I think the best invention is the paper clip designed by Johan Vaaler because it has never needed to be redesigned because it completes its intended function perfectly. Some people have created different variations of the paperclip; however, it is purely for aesthetics as the original is frugal in design.

Amy Boothroyd


I think one of the best inventions was the Newcomen engine, an atmospheric stationary engine which was the starting point of the Industrial revolution. It was the first invention to effectively harness steam to produce mechanical work.

Mark Carlyle


I think the best invention ever is the ballpoint pen, because it has contributed to so many other inventions, ideas and interests by just being a quick and easy way to make a note of what you're thinking. It's not a totally accessible form of mark maker but there is good general availability of ballpoint pens.

Jules C.


My choice of invention or rather discovery is Fleming and the anti-biotic penicillin. I like the idea that chance as well as scientific discovery came into it.  Penicillin has had a huge impact on medicine and allowing people to recover from infections and has particularly enabled operations to take place. This pandemic has shown how important research is and how a problem often leads to a solution.

Sharon Healy

Keep an eye out over the next few days when we'll be launching October's Halloween-themed activity!

Find out more about Voices in the Coalshed here!

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