Saturday, May 28, 2022

Market Harborough and cat's eyes in 1934

You sometimes hear the claim that Market Harborough was the first town in England (or Britain or possibly the world) to install cat's eyes in its roads.

When I looked into this I found that a book that said the urban district council had laid "Follsain Glowworm studs, patented by Jesse Neuhaus" in 1934. (Percy Shaw's cat's eyes were not patented until the following year. Their USP was that they were self cleaning.)

I've now found a bit more evidence. The Market Harborough Advertiser and Midland Mail for Friday 11 May 1934 carried this paragraph:

Mrs. Dare, who is a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. H. Saunders, of Market Harborough, writing home from India (Bombay) says that she has seen reference in the "Times of India," to the novel road studs which have been placed on the Leicester-road at Market Harborough.

In those days we were so go-ahead they even talked about us in India.


A Rambling Ducky said...

I found more in the "Market Harborough Advertiser and Midland Mail" for Friday 23 March 1934.

"An Interesting Experiment.— A new scheme to give motorists their proper position on the road when they are taking a corner at night time has been installed the Wooden Bridge comer on the Leicester-road. A number of circular clocks of steel with a crystal glass fixed in the centre have been placed distance about three yards apart along the white line. When a motor vehicle approaches at night the crystal reflects the light, thus making the white line visible night as in the day time. This the first installation of its kind in the Midlands. It likely, we think to be very largely copied, as its usefulness to motorists is self-evident"

And in the next issue (30 March 1934)

" NOVEL WHITE LINE.” As mentioned briefly in our last issue, motorists passing round the curve near the wooden bridge on the Leicester-road after dark, find the centre of the road apparently marked out by a string of miniature electric bulbs. Actually, they are themselves demonstrating by their headlamps the efficiency of the first installation in Great Britain of the very latest idea in traffic lines, which has been carried out during the week by the Urban District Council, with the approval of the County Surveyor. The "line" consists of studs forming an ordinary visible guide of the metallic type during daylight, but each stud contains a strong reflecting lense to give a night indication. The studs, which are being manufactured at a local foundry, have, we understand, aroused considerable interest amongst the road and transport authorities, and the experiment is likely to be widely watched. Incidentally, it was noted on the first evening that drivers were tending to make considerable reduction In speed when taking the corner"

I suspect the local foundry was the Wycliffe Works at Lutterworth, who had a contract with the Follsain Syndicate and became Follsain Wycliffe in 1951.

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks so much for doing this. The Wooden Bridge, which was a little way out of town, was razed a few years ago to make way for an access road to a new estate.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be late to this - I thought the inventor of the cats' eyes was Percy Shaw of Halifax? There's even a pub named after him. Wikipedia refers:-

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks, it was Percy Shaw. I have corrected the name in the post.