Yorkshire is famous for its inventions and technologies. From a favourite bar of chocolate, to improving safety on our roads.
1. Mouse traps
They say you’ll never build a better mouse trap and so far they have not built a better one than James Henry Atkinson’s ‘Little Nipper'.
Although not the first mouse trap ever invented, Atkinson – an Ironmonger from Leeds – came up with the design that you’ll recognise from cartoons and games all the way back in 1899, still manufactured to this day.
2. Cat's eyes
Halifax’s Percy Shaw invented the Cat's eyes, the reflective studs used to help mark roads since 1934, now widely used all over the world.
Shaw told many stories over his life of how he was inspired to build the cat's eye with the most common being that, while driving down a difficult road – Queensbury Road, part of the A647, with a very steep drop to one side – from Old Dolphin pub to his home, he saw a cat on a fence along the edge of the road and the reflection of his headlights back to him in the cat’s eye allowed him to take corrective action and remain on the road.
Cat's eyes are not just a bit of inspired genius that have saved many lives, they also contain many clever design features such as a reservoir that fills with water and specially shaped wipers, which allows cars passing over to wash them, meaning they don’t get dirty and need cleaning.
Percy was also a famous eccentric, known for having four colour TVs in his house, constantly playing and tuned to BBC1, BBC2, ITV and BBC2 respectively!
3. Fizzy drinks
Birstall-born Joseph Priestley is famous for many things, not least of which is discovery of “dephlogisticated air” or oxygen, as it’s more commonly known. But his most enjoyable innovation is probably sparkling water.
Priestly discovered a method of carbonating water – adding carbon dioxide gas to create bubbles – when he suspended a bowl of water above a beer vat at a brewery near his home in Leeds in 1767.
He published his method and so made available the entire future of fizzy drinks.
Two of the UK’s biggest supermarkets ASDA and Morrisons as well as department store Marks & Spencer all got their start in Yorkshire.
Marks & Spencer was founded by a partnership between Michael Marks, a Polish Jew refugee, and Thomas Spencer, a cashier from Skipton.
It started as a penny bazaar in Leeds Kirkgate Market. They still have a market stall there to this day.
ASDA was founded in 1965 when the supermarket-owning Asquith family – originally butchers from Knottingley – merged with Associated Dairies company of Yorkshire. ASquith plus DAires equals ASDA!
Morrisons was founded in 1899 by William Morrison as an egg and butter stall in Rawson Market, Bradford.