Percy Shaw Sharon B

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Being a Yorkshire lass, I feel proud that I was born and brought up in the same West Yorkshire borough as Percy Shaw, the inventor of the famous Catseye 

The borough is Calderdale, formally known as the West Riding of Yorkshire.

We take this amazing road safety invention for granted, but who was the modest, hard- working chap who came up with this unique creation?

Who was Percy Shaw?

Percy, a fourth child of seven (children from his father's second marriage) was born in Lee Mount, Halifax, on 15th April 1860. When he was two years old, the family moved to the district of Boothtown. (Also in Halifax). He left school at 13. To help support his family, he embarked on a series of different jobs.

Bored by his first job of bobbin carrying, he decided to study on a night time book- keeping course to improve his prospects. Later, he went into engineering, welding and boiler making.
In 1912, he teamed up with his dad in order to run an odd job/ handy man service. After the first world war, the family firm moved into the area of road surfacing. Being a bit of a clever clogs, Percy invented a narrow type of motor roller, which put him streets ahead of his competitors. (Pardon the pun!)

One dark foggy night, as he was driving home from the Old Dolphin pub in Queensbury, his car headlights picked up a strange reflection ahead. Percy realised that the reflection was from a pair of sparkling cat's eyes!

Inspiration struck, and from that moment on, in his spare time, he began working on a new invention to help aid motorists drive safely in the dark.

On 15th March 1935, his company, Reflecting Roadstuds Ltd was officially launched. However things didn't exactly run smoothly. It was difficult to get his invention off the ground (or in it!).

It was only after the second world war that Catseye ™  was put into everyday use.

As we all know, it proved a tremendous success and made Percy a millionaire, yet he didn't waltz off to London. As a true Yorkshireman, he never left Halifax - in fact, he never left Boothtown.
In the 1960's, during a TV interview with Alan Whicker, Percy's eccentric lifestyle was finally revealed to the nation. It made me chuckle when I discovered that he liked to eat fish and chips in his rolls royce!

Percy was awarded an OBE in 1965. He died aged 86, on 1st September 1976.

He never married or had children. Percy's road safety legacy lives on.

His company, Reflecting Roadstuds Ltd is still based in Boothtown Halifax. They still manufacture Catseye™ to this day.

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Sharon B RSPCA

Talking of cats - and animals generally – we have produced an e -anthology of short stories called PAWS FOR THOUGHT. Sales from this will help raise funds for the RSPCA.

For more information, please visit:

Written by Sharon Boothroyd.

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