Cavitation and bubble dynamics have a wide range of practical applications in a range of disciplines, including hydraulic, mechanical and naval engineering, oil exploration, clinical medicine and sonochemistry. However, this paper focuses on how a fundamental concept, the Kelvin impulse, can provide practical insights into engineering and industrial design problems. The pathway is provided through physical insight, idealized experiments and enhancing the accuracy and interpretation of the computation. In 1966, Benjamin and Ellis made a number of important statements relating to the use of the Kelvin impulse in cavitation and bubble dynamics, one of these being 'One should always reason in terms of the Kelvin impulse, not in terms of the fluid momentum…'. We revisit part of this paper, developing the Kelvin impulse from first principles, using it, not only as a check on advanced computations (for which it was first used!), but also to provide greater physical insights into cavitation bubble dynamics near boundaries (rigid, potential free surface, two-fluid interface, flexible surface and axisymmetric stagnation point flow) and to provide predictions on different types of bubble collapse behaviour, later compared against experiments. The paper concludes with two recent studies involving (i) the direction of the jet formation in a cavitation bubble close to a rigid boundary in the presence of high-intensity ultrasound propagated parallel to the surface and (ii) the study of a 'paradigm bubble model' for the collapse of a translating spherical bubble, sometimes leading to a constant velocity high-speed jet, known as the Longuet-Higgins jet.