John Dunlop, Scottish inventor, c 1890.

John Dunlop, Scottish inventor, c 1890.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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John Dunlop (1840-1921) was a veterinary surgeon who is generally credited with inventing the pneumatic tyre, having in 1887 replaced the solid rubber tyres on the wheels of his child's tricycle with inflated rubber hoses. The Scottish engineer Robert William Thomson (1822-1873) had already patented this principle in 1845, but it was Dunlop who, in 1889, formed the busines which became the Dunlop Rubber Company Ltd and produced commercially pneumatic tyres for both bicycles and motor cars.
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