Thursday, 2 April 2015
Benjamin Braithwaite Browning . . . . The A to Z of Slightly Strange Unknown Victorian Inventors and Explorers
Benjamin Braithwaite Browning
Had it not been for his rather colourful life style Benjamin Braithwaite Browning would probably remain completely unknown . . . . his only invention being the Barometric Bellows, a brilliant device that had no obvious practical use at the time, well not until the court case.
Having been brought up in a circus he was an expert juggler and fire eater, spent time as a tattooed Lady in a freak show, worked as a spy for the British in Russia, is said to have shot the very last living Dodo for a family feast and had always claimed that he was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest. A claim that now has some substance from a very early photograph that was said to have been taken at the summit.
His Barometric Bellows were designed to give a predictable and consistent linear parallel air flow; unheard of before or since in a hand operated bellows. But its uses were incredibly limited.
However Benjamin Braithwaite Browning was found in a very compromising position with three naked dancers from the Folie Bergere and a leading politician all doing unspeakable things with two pairs of the Barometric Bellows. The scandal made all the main newspapers of the time and for a very short time led to a sudden increase in sales of the Barometric Bellows. But they were quickly banned from sale and destroyed by the authorities, even today they are very difficult to find and highly prized by a certain knowing group with certain interests.