Saturday, September 05, 2015

Cat's eyes and Market Harborough

Peter Black has picked up a Telegraph story:
They were invented by Percy Shaw of Boothtown, Halifax, West Yorkshire and have been a fixture on British roads since the 1930s but now cats eyes are set for the scrap heap, with the UK Government proposing to phase them out and replace them with LED lights.
When I read this I half-remembered reading something about Market Harborough being the first town to use cat's eyes on its roads.

And a little googling turns up the book 365 Days of Motoring: An Everyday Journey Through its History, Facts and Trivia by Nigel P. Freestone:
The first reflecting road studs – Follsain Gloworm studs, patented by Jesse Neuhaus – were first laid in England, by Market Harborough Urban District Council, Leicestershire.
That was in 1934. Shaw did not patent his invention until 1935, so - as so often - Market Harborough was ahead of the game.

1 comment:

Frank Little said...

It was the self-cleaning property which was Percy Shaw's great innovation and which enabled his design to sweep the board. Incidentally, he did not let his great wealth go to his head:

"he lived until his death in 1976 - aged 86 - in the same home his parents had moved into when he was two years old.
His accommodation was rendered even more Spartan because he stripped out all the carpets and curtains, living in a cavernous, near-empty room.

"His only real decorations were the three television sets that were kept permanently switched on. One was tuned to BBC1, the second to BBC2 and the third to ITV. A fourth set was kept in reserve.

"Percy, though, was no hermit. Although he never married, he enjoyed the company of the ladies, and of his fellow man.
A typical day would see him decamp to the local pub, before bringing his old friends back to his house for a party involving crates of beer, packets of crisps and watching the wrestling on the television - or children's programmes."