Yorkshire inventions

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk - Thomas A. Edison

Yorkshire is a hotbed of inventions, from steam locomotives to cats eyes, the county is famous for its technologies that have changed the world...

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Cats eyes

Percy Shaw was a Yorkshire inventor and set up a company to manufacture his invention in 1934.  

Driving home after dark, he often noticed that the reflection of his headlights from the tramlines recently laid in the Halifax area showed the line of the road. One night, on a familiar but dangerous stretch of road, the tramlines had been taken up for repair, but, so the story goes, he saw two pinpoints of light - from the eyes of a cat by the roadside. The kernel of his best idea came to him - why not put reflectors like this along the road? 

Motion pictures

When you think of movies, Leeds may not spring to mind, but the first motion pictures were filmed there in the 19th century.  Louis Le Prince (born in Metz, France) came to Leeds to work for an engineering company. He developed his own movie camera, moving from one spool to another through a shutter. The first motion pictures were filmed at Oakwood Grange and on Leeds Bridge in 1888. 

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Bottle banks

The first ever bottle bank in the UK was launched in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, in 1977.  Just six months later, 500 tonnes of glass had been collected nationwide. Of course, today we use technology to recycle all types of materials including plastic, paper and garden waste.


Jelly Tots

Jelly Tots were accidentally invented in Horsforth by Brian Boffey.  He was trying to create powdered jelly at the time and stumbled upon toddlers favourite treats - what a mistake!

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Steam trains

The world's first commercialy viable locomotive was made by Matthew Murray in Holbeck, Leeds in 1790.  He was an innovative designer in many fields, including steam engines, machine tools and machinery for the textile industry.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel, which we now use every day, was discovered by Harry Brearley in Sheffield in 1913. Sheffield later became known as the city for stainless steel production.

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The mousetrap

Although the USA takes the credit for the first lethal mouse trap, the classic spring-loaded trap was invented just a few years later by Leeds-born James Henry Atkinson in 1899.  The 'Little Nipper' proved so effective that Proctor bought the patent for his creation in 1913 and they are still in production today.