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Rocket

Burnt envelope from the Scarp island rocket trial and sketch diagram of the rocket used in July 1934.

In England, the first experiments for carrying mail by rocket were carried out by a 26-year old German inventor, Gerhard Zucker. This coincided with a period when The GPO (General Post Office) was looking for a method of carrying mail over water during rough weather.

The first experiment, on the Sussex Downs, on June 6, 1934 was successful. A trial over sea then followed in the Western Isles on July 28 at which two Post Office representatives were present. The rocket, loaded with 4,800 letters, was launched from Scarp Island to Hushinish Point, on the Isle of Harris...

However, instead of shooting up and over the Sound of Scarp, there was a flash, a dull explosion and a cloud of smoke. The scorched letters fell like confetti onto the beach. Zucker said that the failure was due to the type of explosive used.

Three days later, a second attempt met with similar disaster. After a third, unsuccessful trial in Hampshire in December 1934, Zucker claimed that the rocket's flight was spoilt by a gust of wind - hardly a recommendation for rocket mail being sent to the islands during stormy weather!