John Boyd Dunlop

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For other people named John Dunlop, see John Dunlop (disambiguation).
John Boyd Dunlop
John Boyd Dunlop 418px.jpg
Born (1840-02-05)5 February 1840
Dreghorn, North Ayrshire, Scotland
Died 23 October 1921(1921-10-23) (aged 81)
Dublin, Ireland
Resting place
Deans Grange Cemetery, Dublin
Nationality British
Citizenship United Kingdom
Known for Development of the pneumatic tyre

John Boyd Dunlop (5 February 1840 – 23 October 1921) was a British inventor. He was one of the founders of the rubber company that bore his name, Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company.

He was born on a farm in Dreghorn, North Ayrshire, and studied to be a veterinary surgeon at the Dick Vet, University of Edinburgh, a profession he pursued for nearly ten years at home, moving to Downpatrick, Ireland, in 1867. He established Downe Veterinary Clinic in Downpatrick with his brother James Dunlop before moving to a practice in 38-42 May Street, Belfast. He was a good friend of Queen Victoria.

In 1887, he developed the first practical pneumatic or inflatable tyre for his son's tricycle, fitting it to a wooden disc 96cm across in the yard of his home in Belfast. [1] The tyre was an inflated tube of sheet rubber. He then took his wheel and a metal wheel from his son's tricycle and rolled both across the yard together. The metal wheel stopped rolling but the pneumatic continued until it hit a gatepost and rebounded. Dunlop then put pneumatics on both rear wheels of the tricycle. That too rolled better and Dunlop moved on to larger tyres for a bicycle "with even more startling results."[2] He tested that in Cherryvale sports ground, South Belfast, and patented it on 7 December 1888. Unknown to Dunlop however was that another Scot, Robert William Thomson from Stonehaven, had already patented the tyre in 1847.

Willie Hume demonstrated the supremacy of Dunlop's tyres in 1889, winning the tyre's first ever races in Ireland and then England.[3][4] The captain of the Belfast Cruisers Cycling Club', he became the first member of the public to purchase a bicycle fitted with pneumatic tyres, so Dunlop suggested he should use them in a race. On 18 May 1889 Hume won all four cycling events at the Queen's College Sports in Belfast, and a short while later in Liverpool, won all but one of the cycling events.[4]

Two years after he was granted the patent Dunlop was officially informed that it was invalid as Scottish inventor Robert William Thomson (1822–1873), had patented the idea in France in 1846 and in the US in 1847. Dunlop's patent was later declared invalid on the basis of Thomson's prior art, see Tyres.

Dunlop’s development of the pneumatic tyre arrived at a crucial time in the development of road transport. Commercial production began in late 1890 in Belfast. Dunlop assigned his patent to William Harvey Du Cros, in return for 1,500 shares in the resultant company and in the end did not make any great fortune by his invention. Dunlop died in Dublin, and is buried in Deans Grange Cemetery.

Dunlop's image appears today on the £10 note issued by the Northern Bank which is in circulation in Northern Ireland.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Bicycle, UK, 21 July 1943, p3
  2. ^ The Bicycle, UK, 21 July 1943, p3
  3. ^ The Golden Book of Cycling - William Hume, 1938. Archive maintained by 'The Pedal Club'.
  4. ^ a b Dunlop, What sets Dunlop apart, History, 1889
  5. ^ "Northern Bank 10 Pounds, 2004". Ron Wise's Banknoteworld. Retrieved 2008-10-17. 

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