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Sir James Dyson: His path to success

PUBLISHED: 14:55 18 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:07 18 June 2019

Sir James Dyson was born Cromer and joined Gresham's aged nine, attending the school from 1956 to 1965. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images

Sir James Dyson was born Cromer and joined Gresham's aged nine, attending the school from 1956 to 1965. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

His inventions are many and varied, but it is the vacuum cleaner with which Sir James Dyson has always been most closely associated.

After leaving Gresham's, Sir James studied furniture and interior design at the Royal College of Art, where his interest in the links between engineering and design was sparked.

This prompted his idea for a vacuum which would not lose suction as it picked up dirt, which became the first bagless Dual Cyclone' vacuum, also called the G-Force, launched in 1983.

Sir James worked for years on the product, churning out more than 5,000 prototypes before finally producing a satisfactory model.

But manufacturers rejected the design, fearing its impact on the market for replacement dust bags.

Not to be defeated, Sir James set up his own firm, Dyson Ltd, opening a factory and research centre in Wiltshire in 1993.

The Dual Cyclone became the UK's fastest-selling vacuum cleaner and one of the country's most popular brands, and the company now employs more than 12,000 people and made profits of more than £1.1 billion last year.

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In 2002, he launched the James Dyson Foundation to inspire the next generation to become engineers with a simple message about how to succeed: 'think differently and make mistakes'.

As well as schools including Gresham's, the foundation has supported a range of institutions including Cambridge University, Imperial College London, The Royal College of Art and establishing the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology.

Sir James's first invention was the Ballbarrow, a type of wheelbarrow which uses a ball instead of a wheel.

In his early career he worked at Rotork Controls in Bath, where he and company chairman Jeremy Fry invented the Sea Truck - a high-speed boat made for transporting goods without needing to dock at a jetty.

His other successes include the Airblade hand dryer and the Supersonic hair dryer.

Although Sir James earlier wanted the UK to join the Eurozone, he became a prominent Brexit supporter in the lead-up to the 2016 referendum.

He attracted some criticism in January this year with plans to move Dyson Ltd's headquarters from Wiltshire to Singapore.

He was knighted in 2007.

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