Inventor: Kirkpatrick Macmillan
Macmillan was born in 1812 in Dumfriesshire, Scotland. His father, who
was a village blacksmith, enjoyed the company of his young son and often
took him to work with him, giving him small jobs to do around the
blacksmith shop and as the boy grew, actually teaching him the art of
One day at the age of twelve years, young
Kirkpatrick Macmillan saw another boy riding what was called a hobby
horse in those days and immediately decided to construct one for himself
which he did.
When enjoying riding his new toy,
Kirkpatrick Macmillan got the idea of how much better it would be if he
had a way to propel the hobby horse without pushing it along the road
with his feet. He began experimenting with various ways of creating a
riding vehicle which could be propelled by some sort of pedals. Around
1839, now an adult, he finally succeeded in accomplishing this childhood
ambition and the first bicycle became a reality. The movement of the
pedals moved rods which were connected to the back wheel of the bicycle
and the bicycle was propelled forward.
Kirkpatrick Macmillan was thrilled with his
new invention and although it was nowhere near as easy to control as are
our modern day bicycles, he managed to master the art and then continued
to improve on his original invention.
Kirkpatrick Macmillan Bicycle
For some reason, Kirkpatrick Macmillan
never bothered to give thought to patenting his invention and soon
others began copying it. One man, Gavin Dalzell of Lesmahagow copied
Kirkpatrick Macmillan’s bicycle and taught a number of other people how
to make them also. For a long time, Gavin Dalzell was considered to be
the inventor of the bicycle although he made no such claim for himself
and was quick to deny it when it was said of him.
Kirkpatrick Macmillan never was concerned
with receiving publicity and credit as the inventor of the bicycle. He
preferred his quiet country life as a blacksmith and enjoying the use of
his invention itself. He died January 26, 1878.