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John Boyd Dunlop is Born

Today in Masonic History John Boyd Dunlop is born in 1840.

John Boyd Dunlop was a Scottish-born and educated inventor.

Dunlop was born on February 5th, 1840 in Dreghorn, North Ayrshire, Scotland. At a young age he was informed that he was a premature baby, being born two months earlier. This caused Dunlop to be convinced that his health was very fragile and he acted accordingly. He did not develop any serious illnesses in his life, so it is unclear what convinced him that his health was fragile. He studied to be a veterinary surgeon at the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh. After graduating he worked as a veterinary surgeon for 10 years before moving to Ireland.

In 1867, Dunlop moved to Downpatrick, Ireland. There he established a new veterinary practice that by the mid-1800's was one of the largest practices in Ireland.

It was in 1887 that Dunlop made his most well known invention, the pneumatic tire. Dunlop was already familiar with working with rubber through this veterinary practice. One day in October he decided to make a tire for his son's tricycle. After creating the pneumatic tire, a rubber tire filled with air, he rolled one of the tricycles original metal tires along the grass next to his new tire. The pneumatic tire traveled farther than the metal and the pneumatic was only stopped by a gatepost. Dunlop created a second tire and put both on the tricycle discovering that the tricycle moved more easily as well. He was granted a patent in 1888.

By 1889, Dunlop had started making larger tires for bicycles and they were being used for racing. In 1889, William Hume demonstrated the tires by winning races in England and Ireland. This brought the tire to the attention of Harvey Du Cros, who would become Dunlop's business partner. The two built began building a company until 1890 when they hit a problem. Dunlop was informed that his patent was being taken away because someone else had already been granted a patent in France and the United States almost 40 years earlier.

Despite the setup the two men pushed on and the Pneumatic Tyre and Booth's Cycle Agency was revived by Du Cros. Dunlop by 1895 had retired and given Du Cros control of the business, although Dunlop continued to have a stake in the company. In 1896, Du Cros sold the entire business for £3 million. Du Cros remained the head of the company though and in the early part of the 20th century it was renamed to Dunlop Rubber.

Dunlop passed away on October 23rd, 1921. It is said that he "caught a chill" and died from it.

Dunlop was a member of Lodge of Harmony CXI in Belfast, Ireland.