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Bicycle inventor inspires ancestor’s book

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By Ben Murray
Dumfries and West
Bicycle inventor inspires ancestor’s book
INVENTOR IN MOTION. . . Art of Kirkpatrick Macmillan from 1839

A NEW book about the life of a Dumfriesshire blacksmith who invented the bicycle has just been published.

Kirkpatrick Macmillan lived from 1812-1878 at Keir Mill near Penpont and is generally associated with the invention of treadle bikes.

Dumfries born author David Hurdle, who now lives in Norfolk, became fascinated with him after discovering he was a long distance ancestor, Macmillan being his uncle’s great grandfather’s brother-in-law.

And that fascination has now become a self-published 81-page book. In it he describes Macmillan’s life in Dumfriesshire during the 1800s, including the varied roles he had in his community, as well as the tragic loss of his wife and children.

It outlines how in 1839, Kirkpatrick built a ‘hobby horse’ which became the inspiration for his first treadle cycle.

During his tests of this new form of transport, Kirkpatrick cycled 68 miles to Glasgow and was even fined five shillings for knocking down a child. The magistrate for the case remarked that “The highways of this country will soon not be safe to travel on”, and the Glasgow Argus reported that “This invention will not supersede the railways”.

Centuries later, and there are now over one billion bicycles in the world.

The book gives cyclists, and visitors to Dumfriesshire with its extensive cycle route network, a fascinating account of Kirkpatrick’s life in the 19th century and his wonderful achievement.

For more information, visit the listing on Amazon.


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