Electric trouser press inventor Peter Corby dies aged 97

‘His trouser presses were like an old friend’: Tributes to inventor of eponymous electric trouser press Peter Corby – whose creation became a fixture in British hotel rooms and was taken apart by a bored Alan Partridge – as he dies aged 97

  • Electric trouser press was invented in the early 1960s by RAF veteran Mr Corby, who served in World War Two
  • The time-saving device became a common feature of British hotel bedrooms and households
  • In Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge show, the character was seen taking one apart while bored in a hotel room
  • In 2009 expenses scandal, it emerged Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne claimed £119 for a trouser press 

Invented in the 1960s, it was a device which became an aspirational product for the British middle classes.

The Corby electric trouser press – still a common feature of hotel bedrooms up and down the country – banished ‘baggy knees’ and gave its users a sense of crisp satisfaction. 

The press’s inventor, Peter Corby, who has died aged 97, was inspired to develop his product’s electrical heating pad after a chance meeting with a Concorde aeronautical engineer.

His device, which is still made in Britain, has become a target for satirists. 

In the 2009 MP’s expenses scandal, it emerged that senior Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne had claimed £119 in expenses for one of the devices.

Huhne went to pay the money back and admitted the claim was ‘a bit Alan Partridge’.

It was likely a reference to an episode of the British comedy classic, when Steve Coogan’s bored character pulls apart his trouser press in his hotel room.

Today, Twitter users paid tribute to Mr Corby’s product after news of his death emerged. One said: ‘His trouser presses were like an old friend’. 

Invented in the 1960s, it was a device which became an aspirational product for the British middle classes. The Corby electric trouser press – still a common feature of hotel bedrooms up and down the country – banished ‘baggy knees’ and gave its users a sense of warm satisfaction

The press’s inventor, Peter Corby, who has died aged 97, was inspired to develop his product’s electrical heating pad after a chance meeting with a Concorde aeronautical engineer

Mr Corby’s father John began making and selling what were then described as valet stands in 1930.

Then, in the early 1960s, Mr Corby patented a design which included an electrical heating pad.

The stated aim was to create a product which would ‘produce a better appearance of the trousers than known presses’. 

The presses were also usefully equipped with a jacket hanger and a tray for small change. 


Today, Twitter users paid tribute to Mr Corby’s product after news of his death emerged. One said: ‘His trouser presses were like an old friend’

In 1977, after selling millions of presses, Mr Corby sold his business to what is now Jourdan plc. It is now owned by Huddersfield firm Fired Up Corporation. 

Born in Leamington Spa in July 1924, Mr Corby joined the Royal Air Froce’s Volunteer Reserve in September 1943 and was mobilised in February 1944, according to the Telegraph.

After training as a flight engineer, he flew in the Halifax bomber as part of 78 Squadron in the final weeks of the war in Europe. 

After the war, Mr Corby returned to the skies in 1948, flying in a Lincoln bomber. 

Born in Leamington Spa in July 1924, Mr Corby joined the Royal Air Froce’s Volunteer Reserve in September 1943 and was mobilised in February 1944

He then joined his father in the family business, before the older man’s death in 1955.

Then, the inventor met a Concorde engineer who had discovered a way of preventing the famous supersonic airliner’s nose from freezing.

Mr Corby was inspired by the innovation to develop the heating element of the trouser press, transforming their effectiveness.

The businessman then began a leasing arrangement with hotels in the early 1970s before selling his firm.

Mr Corby went on to hold positions at a number of other firms but then lost much of his fortune in the financial crisis of the early 1990s.

Adverts for the trouser press were often humorous and referenced gender stereotypes. Above: A 2002 advert for the device

This advert in the Daily Mail invited would-be buyers to ‘return handsome dividends’. It added: ‘Today’s man looks 100 per cent. Never crumpled. He owns a Corby trouser press’

This festive advert for the Corby trouser press referenced The Twelve Days of Christmas song

In 1980, the businessman retired to the Isle of Wight. His home was full of his experimental gadgets, including various tie press machines. 

He is survived by his second wife Gail Clifford-Marshall and their son, as well as two children from his first marriage.   

Paying tribute on Twitter, others said Mr Corby was a ‘remarkable businessman’ who ‘managed to keep selling a product (mainly to hotels) despite the fact that most guests never used it’. 

Another noted his passing by jokingly referencing the scene in Alan Partridge, saying ‘just don’t get bored and take one to bits’.  

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