Sam Hanna Bell Samuel Beckett John Hewitt Bernard (Barney) Hughes James Joseph Magennis VC Frances Elizabeth Clarke Stewart Parker William Carleton Rosamond Praegar

John Boyd Dunlop (1840 - 1921):
Inventor of the pneumatic tyre

John Boyd Dunlop was born at Dreghorn in Ayrshire on 5 February 1840 and qualified as a veterinary surgeon before moving to Belfast in 1867. His practice was at 50 Gloucester Street, off May Street.

His great invention, of the inner tube for cycle tyres, came about more or less by chance. In 1888 his small son was prescribed cycling as cure for a heavy cold; Dunlop hit on the idea of making the boy's tricycle more comfortable by fitting it with inflated tubes, made of canvas and bonded together with liquid rubber. He patented this idea, using the word 'pneumatic' for the first time, in the same year. A local firm, W. Edlin and Co, then agreed to manufacture frames to fit the new tyre; and when, in 1889, a well-known local cyclist, Willie Hume, won a race at Cherryvale using it, the novelty started to catch on. The paper manufacturer, Harvey du Cros, who was in the crowd at the time, bought Dunlop's patents in 1896 for £3000. Dunlop had in the meantime moved to Dublin, where he manufactured bicycle frames in collaboration with a local firm, Bowden and Gillies. He died on 24th October 1921.

Dunlop is honoured by an Ulster History Circle Blue Plaque, situated in May Street, Belfast city centre. In February 2019 Danske Bank in Northern Ireland launched a new polymer ten pound note into circulation; the note carries an image of Boyd on the obverse alongside an image of his son on a bicycle, fitted with his father's tyres. 

Born: 5 February 1840
Died: 23 October 1921
Patrick Devlin

Additional research: Richard Froggatt