A plaque to two Belfast men who played a pivotal role developing cycling as we know it has been unveiled in the city just as locals prepare to behold the biggest two-wheeled race ever to come to Northern Ireland.
The commemorative piece honours practical pneumatic tyre inventor John Boyd Dunlop, a Scottish-born veterinary surgeon and inventor, and renowned cyclist Willie Hume, who won numerous races using the tyres back in the early 1890s.
Hume, captain of the Belfast Cruisers’ Cycling Club, established the tyres as the standard for the sport.
He won all four races at the Queen’s College Sports and was the first person to buy a bicycle fitted with the then revolutionary tyres. He later won multiple races across the island of Ireland and England,
Although Dunlop’s invention revolutionised and helped popularise cycling, his assignment of the patent to William Harvey Du Cros in return for 1500 in company shares, meant he did not make the fortune he could have.
While he later died in Dublin, Dunlop’s memory lives on in Belfast, the city he adopted as his home, where an Ulster History Circle Blue Plaque marks the site of his workshop in May Street. His image also appears on the Northern Bank £10 note.
Belfast Lord Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir unveiled the plaque yesterday near the spot where the invention took place on the Ormeau Road.
Pupils from Scoil an Droichid and Harding Memorial Primary School, who are taking part in the Sustrans’ Active Schools Travel Programme, attended the unveiling. This evening members of the public will meet cyclists taking part in the famous Giro race.