Veteran Bill invents ways to protect the troops

AT a time when the Government is seeking an older retirement age, Bill Hamer of Bideford is still putting his engineering skills to good use at the age of 87. Bill may be officially retired, but he is never happier than when working, constantly drawing up

AT a time when the Government is seeking an older retirement age, Bill Hamer of Bideford is still putting his engineering skills to good use at the age of 87.

Bill may be officially retired, but he is never happier than when working, constantly drawing up plans for new inventions which he hopes will help others.

From a seed drill made specially for the blind and a cake icer to a chimney-free incinerator and a series of electricity generating schemes from the waves, tides and even water supply pipes, all have been produced from Bill's inventive mind.

But, above all, he has been concerned by the number of lives being lost in Afghanistan and has turned his mind to ideas to help reduce this and also help those in other war-torn areas where mines and other explosive devices are left to cause devastation among Servicemen and women and local people.


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During the war years Bill was on "special service" with the Admiralty, including helping to adapt landing craft engines from American to British systems. He also worked on reducing 'engine knock' from old-style diesel engines and was one of the first to fit oscilloscopes as an early form of engine management.

His anti-mine device consists, in simplified terms, of a heavily armoured and armed vehicle preceeded by a large rubber roller on a swinging arm, which could detonate the charges. By then swinging up into the air to cause minimal resistance to the charge, the roller could then descend unharmed to continue with its work.

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He has also drawn up plans for a similar style device towed by a helicopter or air balloon for use in non-combat areas, but where land is still littered by mines from previous conflicts - an area dear to the heart of the late Princess Diana.

Bill is considering sending these plans to No 10, in the hope they could be used as the basis to find new ways to protect our troops.

"If there is some way they could help and if I could save just one life, I would be happy," he said.

Among Bill's other ideas is one for the generation of electricity using a sealed system inside the water supply pipes of large cities and towns, using the pressure of the water being pumped through.

There is another based on a paddle wheel and shaft powered by incoming and outgoing tides and a system using the rise and fall on the tide of a huge float and another with an air hydraulic drive system, drawing in air as the tide rises and pushing it out as it falls.

These and others are all drawn up in great detail to show just how they would work. But they await someone with the interest and the means to take them forward.

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