George Formby

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(1915) The shop in Blackpool where George Formby perfected and sold the first double-sided electric grill

George Formby (born George Cooke-Bothsides in Wigan, Lancashire) was the English inventor of the George Formby Grill. He was forced to become an entertainer in 1930 when sales of his grill flopped because at that time electricity had not been invented.

George began prototyping his double-sided grill at age 7. One wash-day his mother's flat iron went missing, and George was found in the back yard using it to cook slices of black pudding sandwiched between the iron and a coal scuttle placed on a hot brick. At the time his father 'clipped him round t'ear-hole' and beat him with the brick until he coughed blood. Undeterred, George carried on his experiments eventually settling on a design which used high-heat resistance wire fixed to two Teflon-coated ridged metal plates with a loose-coupled expanding hinge mechanism.

His father was so impressed with George's descriptions of the health benefits of the grill, and his little recipe booklet describing how to cook tripe, scrag-end of mutton and meat pies between the hot plates, that he funded production of the grill. Then aged only 16, George opened a shop in Blackpool selling rock, electric grills, sheet-music featuring slightly rude songs, and recreational Morphine. His grill was marketed as being 'Right-good for t'preparation of tripes and fishes of all varieties.' Unfortunately George had neglected to check that electricity had been invented, and sales of the 'Tripe, Bream Grilling Apparatus' were poor.

George was encouraged to start an alternative career by his father who suggested that George 'Get out my bloody 'ouse and don't bloody come back.'

George changed his surname from Cooke-Bothsides to Formby in 1934. The entertainment world was in the middle of a 'buck-tooth winker' drought so George was instantly booked to play theaters up and down the land and star in a bunch of films singing vaguely bawdy songs while winking at the camera. George died in 1960 with the details of his invention lost and forgotten.

In 1955 electricity was invented by D.C Rumbellow and A.C.Curry/PCWorld, and in a startling twist of fete, the boxer George Foreman was due in 1994 to defend the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship at the Penny Falls Arcade in Blackpool, and felt peckish. He bought a small stick of Blackpool rock to eat, bit into it, and noticed George Formbys detailed plans for his grill - written right through the rock! George had taken no chances and found a way to preserve his invention until technology and celebrity endorsement contracts had caught-up. George Foreman rushed to the patent office in Morecambe, registered the design, and went into mass-production. To this day every double-sided electric grill is known as a George Formby Grill in honour of its true inventor.