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Cat's Eyes

1026 of 1160 nominations


Cat's Eyes

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Cat's Eyes

Reflecting roadstuds, to give them their original patented name, were the brainwave of a Yorkshire road-mender called Percy Shaw. The product of a near-death experience, the idea came to him one night in 1933. While driving to Bradford in dense fog, Shaw very nearly drove over a sharp drop on an unlit road, and was only alerted to his predicament by the reflection of his headlights in the eyes of a cat that happened to be sitting on the roadside fence. Posterity hasn’t recorded the name of the cat, but the reflective studs named after its eyes are still in use today. Shaw laid the first stretch of Yorkshire road with the self-cleaning iron-clad studs at his own expense, and then set up a company to manufacture them. By the end of the 1930s, they were the officially approved road reflection device of the Ministry of Transport. As with all the best safety innovations, it is impossible to say how many lives have been saved over the years since their introduction. Next time you are driving on an unlit road at night, pause to ‘reflect’ (sorry) on the simple genius of Shaw’s invention, and perhaps also on the cat that inspired him.

Image: Topfoto.co.uk


Your comments

The cat’s eye – it makes driving so much easier.

Will Alsop

Reflecting road studs have saved countless lives on the roads of England and all around the world. They are truly one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.
R. Murray

Cats eyes are funny

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My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry