SURVITEC LAUNCHES VIRTUAL MUSEUM TO CELEBRATE ITS 100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Survitec, a global provider of survival solutions, has partnered with the Museum of Godalming, located in Surrey, England, to curate a first-of-its-kind virtual museum to mark the company’s 100-year anniversary.
The museum showcases inventions and patents that have played a pivotal role in maritime, energy, defence and aviation safety, often helping to shape international safety rules and guidelines.
Ron Krisanda, Executive Chairman, Survitec, said: “The virtual history museum highlights key milestones in the maritime and aviation industry starting with our company founder’s invention of liferafts in the 1920s. Working with the Museum of Godalming, we’ve been able to chronicle the early years of survival products, including the world’s first marine evacuation and submarine escape suit.. At Survitec, we have a long history of saving lives so it is with enormous pride we mark this important contribution to maritime, energy, defence and aviation industries.”
The Godalming Museum is located where Survitec’s founder, Reginald Foster Dagnall, established his first liferaft production facility. Survitec, then known as RFD, supplied survival products during the Great War and is credited with inventing the world’s first infant lifejacket, the first fast jet anti-G trousers, and even helped develop the first Apollo space suit for NASA.
Alison Pattison, Curator, Godalming Museum, said: “Survitec’s story really started in 1920, when Dagnall put his engineering flair and innovative thinking to work manufacturing lightweight inflatable rings designed for an aircraft’s fuselage. This prevented a ditched plane from sinking and allowed the craft to be recovered. His technology evolved to facilitate the rescue of aircrews and, in 1932, a method of automatic inflation was introduced, signalling a major breakthrough for the company and revolutionising the industry for years to come.
“Godalming Museum has a fascinating collection of photographs documenting RFD’s work,” said Pattison. “The museum has a large stock of images, voice interviews with staff from the past and a large bank of information, which we are making available to Survitec to celebrate the company’s centenary. It really is a fascinating insight into a company that has managed to weather the passage of time.”
This year also marks the 100th reference for Survitec’s Marin Ark 2 marine evacuation system, a technology testament to Dagnall’s foresight and pioneering work in inflatable evacuation systems.
The virtual museum, which can be visited at www.survitecgroup.com/100Years, includes television news footage, survivor stories and interviews, along with a number of videos highlighting the evolution of lifejackets, liferafts, marine evacuation systems and more over the years.
Reginald Foster Dagnall started his career in the drawing office of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding company before moving on to develop Willows Airships with Ernest Willows, the Welsh aviator and airship builder. It was during this time he began experimenting with a new “rapid flotation device”, the success of which led him to set up RFD and open a small factory in Guildford and then Godalming, Surrey, in the UK.
By the mid-1930s, RFD began trialling the first automatically inflatable liferaft aboard HMS Ark Royal. Dagnall’s relationship with the military continued with the company supporting the war effort with the production of lightweight dinghies and lifejackets for service personnel.
While RFD evolved into Survitec more than twenty years ago, Dagnall was unable to appreciate the lasting legacy his life’s work would have on maritime and aviation safety. He died aged just 54, in 1942.
For more information about this remarkable man, please see the attached article: The Life and Times of Reginald Foster Dagnall.