Heritage and Culture
John Boyd Dunlop
As he watched his son fall from his tricycle for the tenth time that afternoon, Dunlop thought to himself, what if there was a way to make this easier? As the months passed he began to mull over different ways to make this journey easier for his son. After a few prototypes, Dunlop came up with the idea to create a tyre filled with air. Trying the tyre out on his son's tricycle, he quickly realised the air would take the impact of bumps on the road as his son cycled over them, distributing the vibrations, as suspension on a car would do these days. Having patented his design, Dunlop was approached by a racing cyclist who asked to use his product for his own bicycle. This revolutionary creation wasn't fully realised by Dunlop, who showed little interest in proceeding with the design, however, as the cyclist began to win a number of races, the pneumatic tyre caught on in a way he never could have dreamed of.
so much success in the racing world
invention caught the eye of the president of the Irish Cyclists'
Association, Harvey Du Cros, who he formed a small company with. He
only asked for a small cash sum and a small shareholding in their
pneumatic tyre business, which he withdrew from in 1896. The company
bore his name as the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company and was later
Although it is Dunlop who we have to thank for today's tyre design, he lived an entirely different life prior to his invention. Born in Scotland, he left school and went on to study Veterinary Medicine at the Edinburgh Dick Vet University. He pursued this profession for nearly ten years at home, moving to Ireland in 1867.
Being told he was born prematurely, Dunlop was convinced that he was a sickly person. He was certain his health was fragile and acted accordingly throughout his life. He had no serious illnesses, until he caught a chill in October 1921 at ages 81 and died unexpectedly.