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Percy Shaw

Percy Shaw OBE was a pragmatic Yorkshireman with an intractable problem. He needed to find a way to help him get back from the pub safely in his car, during the dark, and often foggy, Halifax nights. This was a time where there were no streetlights and few other road users.

Where most people would have wondered how to create a new lighting system for the roads, Percy reframed the problem and looked to the animal kingdom for inspiration. He used what we now know as "biomimicry" to engineer the "cat’s eye", a simple, yet ingenious, device that reflects the headlight beam of a vehicle, to create a row of lights that mark the lanes of the road. During another inspirational moment, he added an “eyelid” which automatically cleaned the glass when a car rolled over it.

His beautifully simple invention made him a very rich man indeed and, more importantly, allowed him, and countless other road users, to get home safely after dark.