Bedford ParkResidents' Association

Bedford park Residents' association

Was Television Invented in Bedford Park?

In 1908 John Wellesly Lynn, a resident of Fielding Road, registered a patent he believed would make his fortune - the 'LynnoScope' . Was this the origin of modern TV…right here in Bedford Park?


Lynn described his invention as “ instrument which will enable you to see around the world with images sent through the air with the aid of electricity. By using it in London it will be possible to present an actual reflection of the Derby as it is being run”.

He went on “…I do not mean a living cinematograph picture, but an actual reflection of the event as it is in progress”.

The only problem with Bedford Park’s claim to be the home of TV is that there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that he actually managed to build a working Lynnoscope. That didn’t stop him making extravagant claims for the device. “I have secured perfect reflections at a distance of 186 miles, and I have photographed scenes 80 miles away. I experimented at Buckingham Palace, and have been awarded a diploma at the Inventions Exhibition for optical discoveries”

The Lynnoscope story has emerged from the Bedford Park ‘House History’ project being run by the BPRA. The project is uncovering a treasure trove of stories and personalities. None more so than our hero John Wellesly Lynn, who describes himself as ‘an actor/author’, who moved with his wife Marguerite to 119 Fielding Road in 1908.


Its not clear how much unique research Lynn had done, and how much he might have plagiarised from other sources. Another problem for Bedford Park’s claim is that inventor, Constantin Perskyi had coined the word ‘television’ in a paper read to the International Electricity Congress at the International World Fair in Paris on 24 August 1900. Alexander Graham Bell had also demonstrated his 'Photophone' (pictured above). Lynn’s patent seemed to ‘borrow’ from Perskyi but he went further and described a product which seemed to be half television and half Skype account, “..converse with friends in New York and see what they are doing. Family gatherings could thus be held in far distant countries at the same time”.

The story was reported round the world with coverage in local papers  recorded from Witchita, Kansas to Grey River, NZ (see right). However, the strangest element of the reporting was from the many journals concerned with the spirit world. Many Victorian writers and scientists considered the new medium of electricity to be somehow tied up with spirits, ghosts and alternative consciousness. The Lynnoscope was held up as scientific evidence of this mysterious realm in journals like “The Proofs of the Truths of Spiritualism” by the Reverend Professor G Henslow’.


Lynn was ultimately unable to deliver a technical description of how it would be made and he eventually fell foul of his creditors who, bizarrely, included the Bishop of Bloemfontein, South Africa. The Bishop had advanced Lynn small sums of money to pursue the innovation having met the inventor some years previously, when Mr. Lynn was stranded with a theatrical company in South Africa.

Lynn was declared bankrupt in the London Gazette in September 1909. But later that year he was to hit the headlines again. He was convicted of ‘attempting to commit suicide in public’, by shooting himself in the head in the London offices of a theatre impresario that he felt had betrayed him. See the Evening Standard story on the left.

He eventually recovered, but never realised his dream of the Lynnoscope. But by 1925 he was back in business, receiving a US patent for a “Device for removing kinks and the like from flexible wires”.

This was no doubt very handy for straightening out the aerial cable on his television which John Logie Baird had successfully demonstrated to the UK market the year before.


See here for more information on the Bedford Park House History project, or email to join the project or find out more about your home:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Updated on 03 March