Monday, 9 June 2008

Kirkpatrick Macmillan Inventor of the Bicycle

Kirkpatrick Macmillan

As we have seen in the article about Drumlanrig Castle, the first bicycle was invented near to the site of the Castle.

Just outside the hamlet of Keir, Kirkpatrick Macmillan was a blacksmith, who having seen a child riding a hobbyhorse along the rural roads promptly went home and made one for himself. He then thought that there could be a more efficient way of moving the hobbyhorse, without having to put his feet on the ground . In 1839 he came up with the design which was to be the first bicycle, and was a familiar sight riding around the area.

This machine must have required a great deal of effort to ride, as it was made of wood, the wheels had iron rims, and the whole thing weighed 57 pounds!

As he became more adept at riding his bicyle he ventured further afield on it. On a trip to Glasgow which took him 2 days, he had the distinction of being the first person to be fined for speeding (8mph) and knocking down a pedestrian with his bicycle! The fine was 5 shillings!

He never gained financially from his invention, because he did not patent it. Instead it was left to others to develop, and prosper from it. But he would be happy to know that in the sport of Cycling the Scots have proved to be great world champions, with cyclists such as Graham Obree, Chris Hoy, and Mark Beaumont. Perhaps one might think this is a better, and more enduring legacy.

This is the Smithy, still in use today where the bicyle was invented.

Wall plaque commemorating the invention of the bicycle.

Replica of the first bicycle. If you look closely at the front of the frame of the bicycle, you will see a horse's head. This replica can be seen at the Bicycle Museum at Drumlanrig Castle.

Macmillan Tartan

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