Saturday, 8 March 2008

Kirkpatrick Macmillan Ancestry Tour of Scotland


Kirkpatrick Macmillan Ancestry Tour of Scotland. Kirkpatrick Macmillan and His Dandy Horse Photographic Print, 16" x 12".

Kirkpatrick Macmillan, born in 1812, died on 26 January 1878. In Dumfries Museum stands a replica of the world's first pedal bicycle. A notice states that it was exhibited at the Crystal Palace, London, in the 1890s and that it was made by Thomas McCall, wheelwright, to the same design that Kirkpatrick Macmillan, the inventor, used for his first velocipede around 1840.

The velocipede is longer and heavier than the modern bicycle (it weighs 57 Ib), the rear wheel is 40 in in diameter, the front wheel 30 in. It mainly differs from the bicycle as we know it in that the wheels are of wood with metal tyres and the non-rotating pedals are connected by rods and cranks to the rear wheel. It is clearly superior to the later, short-lived, front-wheel drive bone-shaker.

'Pate' Macmillan was born and spent his life at Courthill smithy in the village of Keir, fourteen miles north of Dumfries. He had three elder brothers, all of whom prospered in Glasgow, one as senior classics master at the High School, another as vice-rector at Hutcheson's Grammar School. Pate preferred the country life. He was a born blacksmith. Long after he invented the pedal bicycle he invented two ploughs that were superior to anything in use at the time, and his son John, who became a Liverpool policeman, recalled seeing him make eight pairs of shoes for horses in an hour, a formidable rate of output to anyone familiar with the farrier's trade. He was also a self-taught vet, a dab hand at dentistry and a member of the Free Kirk who frowned on drinking and smoking but thoroughly enjoyed playing his violin at dances.

Hobby-horses, two wheels joined by a wooden bar with a saddle, had been in use since 1817, but it was Pate who had the brilliantly simple idea of pedal propulsion. His velocipede, with carved horse's head in front, was completed in about 1840. Not appreciating the significance of his strange machine, his neighbours nicknamed him Daft Pate. On 6 June 1842, to his parents' consternation, Pate set out on an historic 70 mile ride to Glasgow. Huge crowds cheered and jeered him on his way. In the Gorbals, while riding on the pavement, he knocked over but hardly injured a small girl. He was arrested and charged, and was probably the first cyclist to be fined for a traffic offence. There is a story, without proof, that a lenient magistrate fined him five shillings, afterwards asking Pate to give him a demonstration of cycling and refunding the fine out of his own pocket. Pate made no attempt to capitalise on his invention; but others did, and it was not until 1892 that he was universally recognised as the inventor of the bicycle.

2 comments:

evaNz said...

Nice!! this help me in my school test.. LOL

Anonymous said...

Kirkpatrick had in fact four older brothers and three sisters. Only John and George were school masters, Walter (died young at 30) and James were also local Blacksmiths, as was his father and two brother in laws.

Kirkpatrick had the ideas but a lot of family experience to call upon. although his best friend provided most help with the labour