Owen Finlay Maclaren

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Owen Finlay Maclaren, MBE (1907 – 13 April 1978) was the inventor of the lightweight baby buggy with a collapsible support assembly and founder of the Maclaren company.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Saffron Walden in Essex to Andrew Maclaren and Eva (née Friend). His father died in 1914. His family descended from the Clan MacLaren in Argyll.

Design engineer[edit]

Spitfire undercarriage[edit]

He designed Spitfire undercarriage legs when working for Maclaren Undercarriage Company Ltd, and while living in West Drayton, Middlesex. In 1944, he retired from aeronautical design, forming the company Andrews Maclaren that manufactured aircraft components.

The Maclaren Drift Undercarriage[edit]

He designed a system for an undercarriage that could cope with cross winds, in which the main wheels could be set to a steering angle away from straight ahead, so that an aircraft could be landed safely in a "crabbing" attitude. Tests with several aircraft types were conducted during and after World War II.[1][2][3][4]

Collapsible baby buggy[edit]

The former test pilot and designer of the Supermarine Spitfire undercarriage was inspired when his daughter visited from the United States with his first grandchild. After watching the parents struggle with the clumsy conventional pushchair, he used his knowledge of lightweight, collapsible structures to create a new generation of infant transport and inspire the design of future collapsible objects such as the Strida bicycle.[5]

He designed his first buggy in 1965, which was built in his medieval farmhouse stables in Barby, Northamptonshire in England just south of Rugby. He applied for a patent, on 20 July 1965, for his 6lb B01 prototype with lightweight aluminium tubes receiving Patent No. 1,154,362. On 18 July 1966 he filed for an American patent, receiving Patent No. 3,390,893.

Only after this design would aluminium tubes be used in other household equipment. The buggy went on sale in 1967. He also designed the 'Gadabout folding chair' which was produced from 1961, and was commissioned by the Ministry of Health to design a larger folding buggy for larger children with disabilities called the 'Buggy Major' this buggy was designed on square tubes instead of the usual round tubes like the 'Baby Buggy', being produced around 1970.

Today the modern version of the 'Baby Buggy' are sold in over 50 countries under the Maclaren brand based in Long Buckby.

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Marie, and they had a son and daughter.

In January 1978, Queen Elizabeth II awarded him with an MBE in the New Year's Honours List.


  1. ^ "Strip Aerodromes" Flight via Flightglobal, 1 September 1938, p. 178.
  2. ^ "Strip Aerodromes" Flight via Flightglobal, 1 September 1938, p. 179.
  3. ^ "Strip Aerodromes" Flight via Flightglobal, 1 September 1938, p. 180.
  4. ^ "Making One Runway Do" Flight via Flightglobal, 16 March 1944, p. 291.
  5. ^ R. Roy. (2004).


  • R. Roy. (2004). Creativity and Concept Design. (p. 63). Open University Worldwide Ltd. ISBN 0-7492-5908-6.
  • Rosalind Sharpe. (23 September 1995). Mother of invention. The Independent. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  • Annabel Freyberg. (2008). Design notebook: Baby buggy. The Telegraph.
  • Per Mollerup. (2001). Collapsible: The Genius of Space-saving Design. (p. 114). Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-3236-8.
  • John Gapper. (19 September 2003). Wheels of fortune. FT.com. Retrieved 2008-04-01.

External links[edit]

Audio clips[edit]