Pioneer and inventor Rex McCandless honoured with blue plaque

Race ace Jeremy McWilliams unveiled the memorial to Rex McCandless at the McCandless engineering works on Belfast's Limestone Road
Race ace Jeremy McWilliams unveiled the memorial to Rex McCandless at the McCandless engineering works on Belfast's Limestone Road

Motorcyclist Jeremy McWilliams was back home in Belfast today to pay tribute to a Co Down man who revolutionised road racing.

He said he was honoured to unveil a blue plaque to Rex McCandless, a talented engineer who excelled in both motor sport and aviation.

Mr McCandless invented the Featherbed motorcycle frame in 1949 which changed the face of motorcycle racing. He was also a developer of the gyroplane.

He died in 1992 and is buried in Killough, Co Down.

In a first for the Ulster History Circle the blue plaque was unveiled at the beginning of the service rather than the end to allow Mr McWilliams to catch a flight to Spain for a race-related engagement.

He told a sizeable crowd that had gathered for the ceremony that he was delighted to be asked to unveil the plaque, but admitted until he was asked he knew about the Norton Featherbed, but very little of the man behind it.

“After carrying out my own research I would like to thank Rex on behalf of the road racing fraternity for the introduction of the Featherbed,” Mr McWilliams said.

A vintage Featherbed Norton motorcycle was on display at the unveiling of the plaque at McCandless engineering works on the Limestone Road.