PERCY SHAW Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


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Name: Percy Shaw                                                                     
Born: 1890                                                                           
Died: 1 September 1976                                                               
Percy Shaw (1890 - 1 September 1976) was an English inventor who patented the         
reflective road stud cat's eye.                                                       
Shaw was born in Halifax in West Yorkshire, the son of Jimmy Shaw, a dyer’s         
labourer, who worked at a local mill. When he was 14, he worked as a road mender.     
Shaw was inventive, even at a young age, but his most famous invention was the       
catseye for lighting the way along roads in the dark.                                 
There are several stories about how he came up with the idea. The most famous is     
that a cat on a fence along the edge of a road looked at the car, reflected his       
headlights back to him, allowing him to take corrective action and remain on the     
road. In an interview with Alan Whicker however, he told a different story of         
being inspired on a foggy night to think of a way of moving the reflective studs     
on a road sign to the road surface. Further, local school children who were           
taken on visits to the factory in the late 1970s were told that the idea came         
from Shaw seeing light reflected from his car headlamps by tram tracks in the         
road on a foggy night. The tram tracks were polished by the passing of trams and     
by following the advancing reflection, it was possible to maintain the correct       
position in the road.