William Martin (1772-1851) was born at The Towhouse, one of a group of old greystone cottages standing on a plateau half a mile west of Bardon Mill, Haltwhistle, Northumberland, during a night of violent thunder and lightning on June 21st 1772.
A philosopher, doggerel poet, pamphleteer, engraver and inventor; he aspired to be 'Renaissance Man' and aimed for the "defeat of learned humbugs":
"Cheer up, you Northumberland and British Bards that can use the pen
And show your divine wisdom for the good of all men…
Cheer up, you Britons, your champion has the battle won,
All the world cannot penetrate the celestial armour he has him upon."
His many inventions included a Life Preserver, a Mechanical Horse, and a Flying Machine. Some of his discoveries and ideas came to him, like his brother Jonathan, in "dreams and visions of the night".