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Baby Buggy (10 Jul 2004)
Most babies born in the 1950's would have first seen the outdoor world from a luxurious pram built like a coach. This was fine if you lived on the ground floor and didn't want to go far, but as houses were converted into flats and travel became easier, hefty prams were a problem. In 1965, Owen Maclaren, grandparent and retired test pilot, applied his engineering knowledge to this issue. He'd worked on the undercarriage of the Spitfire and was used to managing ultra-light materials with the right amount of inbuilt strength. At six pounds, his first buggy weighed in less than the average baby, could fold in half and be carried in one hand - babe in other - just like an umbrella. Lynne talks to design guru James Dyson about the benefits of this invention, who became a father himself in the 1960's. We could jump on the bus, stick it in an aeroplane hold - at this time the package holiday was beginning to take off - and easily climb stairs with babe and pram. It was a world wide success story and is now ubiquitous on our streets, parks and luggage racks.. Today, the buggy you buy is as much a fashion statement as the car you drive. Saying everything about the parent and not much about the baby, Lynne Truss asks whether the buggy craze has gone too far. As celebrities are caught on camera pushing their offspring around in the latest models, the pressure to buy the right buggy is so overwhelming that many parents end up with not one but three buggies, each for a different occasion. Lynne Truss goes buggy shopping with 6 o'clock news presenter Sophie Rayworth [currently on maternity leave] to try and find order amongst the buggy chaos. Ironically, they discover that the old Victorian perambulator is back in fashion.
Article URL: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/indispensables.shtml

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