John Boyd Dunlop: The vet who made his name in tyres

DUNLOP is famously known as the man behind the pneumatic tyre, with the name being synonymous with tyres more than a century on.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Professor Alexander Rae, professor of engineering at the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: "His legacy lives on after more than 100 years."When you mention the name Dunlop you instantly think of tyres."He added: "Dunlop was born in Ayr, but spent most of his time in Irelend. He was a vet by trade and travelled over rough roads on carriages with solid wheels."His son also had some medical issues and felt it uncomfortable to ride a bike with solid rubber tyres."This was when Dunlop came up with his creation of a rubber tyre that could be inflated with air, and absorb the shock from the road.This would soon become the pneumatic type.Dunlop patented the idea in 1888 and the following year Dunlop Tyres began production of pneumatic tyres at a factory in Dublin.The patent was challenged by Robert William Thomson, another Scottish inventor.He claimed to have created it in France in 1846 and in America the following year. However, his invention was different to that made by Dunlop who was able to keep the patent.In 1891 Dunlop Tyres built a factory in Erdington, near Birmingham,. He transferred control of the patent and the company in 1896, at the age of 56, to William Harvey Du Cros.Prof Rae said: "He did well out of the sale, but didn't really make any substantial money."Dunlop became synonymous with motor racing in the 1950s/60s, only to be overtaken by GoodYear and Pirelli."Since then it has become more associated with the aviation industry."John Boyd Dunlop was born on 5 February, 1840, on a farm at Dreghorn in Ayrshire, and died on 23 October, 1921, in Dublin.He studied veterinary science at the Royal School of Veterinary Studies in Edinburgh and moved to Belfast in 1867.