Tuesday, 2 April 2013


JOHN BOYD DUNLOP (1840-1921)

Although his face is featured on the Northern Banks £10 note; John Boyd Dunlop was born in Scotland. After graduating from Veterinary College he took up practice in Ulster in 1867 and it was there that he designed his greatest invention. Whilst watching his son cycling uncomfortably on the cobbled streets of Belfast on solid tyres, he surmised that if the the rims were cushioned by air, the impact on the cyclist would be reduced.
The experiments conducted in America by Charles Goodyear in the 1820s had produced the process of Vulcanisation. This invention greatly improved the elasticity and strenght of rubber. Dunlop was able to prototype the worlds first pneumatic or inflatable rubber tyre.
The success Dunlop's innovation was proven in 1889 when a bicycle fitted with his tyres ridden by Willie Hume won all the races at Queens College Belfast Sports event. The pneumatic tyre was up and running.

Although initially granted a patent, Dunlop has his patent revoked when it was made known that another Scot, Robert Thompson, had patented a pneumatic tyre(Dunlop was unaware of this) in France and  the USA in 1844. Unable to get the right materials at the time, Thompson had not taken the idea to commercial production. Dunlop had already begun production in 1890 and the resulting legal battle saw him sell the patent and company to William Harvey du Cros MP in return for 1500 shares in the company that bore his name.
He never made a huge fortune from an invention nearly as significant as the wheel itself. He retired to Dublin and died in 1821. John Boyd Dunlop is buried in Deans Grange cemetery in Dublin.

Dunlop has become a leading brand in the world market and has been responsible for many innovations since 1890. They also manufacture a wide range of sportswear and equipment. In Ireland Dunlop was a significant employer and manufacturer until 1983.
In 1999 Dunlop was absorbed in to the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company to form the new trading name Goodyear Dunlop. Ironically a giant company was formed bearing the names of two geniuses who never owned the companies that their inventions created.

Here at Heffernan Tyres we have a long standing relationship with Goodyear Dunlop and stock a full range of their products. Their warehouse facility in Dublin and Internet portal for ordering tyres makes doing business with them an easy process. Nearly 100 years after the death of John  Boyd Dunlop; close friend of Queen Victoria and brilliant inventor; the product which bears his name is to be found on the shelves of businesses in the country where he invented it.

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