Kirkpatrick Macmillan

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Scottish blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan is credited with developing the modern pedal bicycle. Macmillan, a simple and humble man, assisted his father at the forge when he discovered a hobby horse. Astounded by the invention, he decided to construct one for himself. Hobbyhorse was a two-wheeled bicycle that was driven by putting the rider’s foot on the ground. Macmillan originally had the idea for a self-propelled machine while working on the hobby horse. In 1839, he developed the first functional model of a pedal bicycle, which he had begun developing shortly after. Intriguingly, for Macmillan, the bicycle was merely a tool that allowed him to travel long distances in less time. Additionally, it lets him explore the tranquil country roads. As a result, he never obtained a patent for his design, despite the bicycle’s enormous potential. Those who saw the bicycle, however, quickly realized its value and began to produce replicas. One such individual was Gavin Dalzell, who reproduced the contraption and distributed the design to so many others that he was considered the inventor of the bicycle for over five years. The early bicycle Macmillan is on display at the Glasglow Transport Museum.

Youth and Early Life

Kirkpatrick Macmillan was born at Keir Mill, Thornhill, Scotland, on September 2, 1812. Robert Macmillan’s father was a blacksmith.

Kirkpatrick Macmillan enjoyed a range of works as a child. As a result of assisting his father at the forge, he obtained knowledge of mechanical devices and metalworking.

At the age of 22, Macmillan served as an assistant to Walter Scott, the fifth Duke of Buccleuch, at Drumlanrig. He later left to assist his father with his work.

Kirkpatrick Macmillan’s Career

Employed as a blacksmith Macmillan encountered a hobbyhorse being ridden on a nearby road by coincidence. He decided to create one for himself after seeing it. At that time, hobbyhorses were driven by putting their feet against the ground.

While working on the hobbyhorse, Macmillan had the idea for a self-propelled velocipede, a vehicle that would move forward without the traveler’s feet touching the ground. He began working on his idea.

In 1839, Macmillan finished the development of a new contraption that would become the precursor to the contemporary bicycle. It was essentially a pedal-powered wooden bicycle. It had wooden wheels with iron rims, a steerable front wheel, and a bigger back wheel. Using connecting rods, he connected the pedals to the back wheel.

The earliest apparatus created by Macmillan required tremendous physical exertion from the rider. When the rider pressed the pedal, a horizontal reciprocating motion moved the bicycle ahead. Connecting rods assisted the rear wheels’ advance by conveying movement to the rear wheel’s cranks. It functioned like the connecting rods between the wheels of a steam locomotive.

Despite the hefty equipment and considerable physical effort required to ride the bicycle, Macmillan quickly mastered riding his invention and used the bicycle to travel fourteen miles to Dumfries across rough country roads. Thank you for the bicycle; he completed the route in less than one hour.

Taking the expedition farther, Macmillan rode his bicycle from Dumfries all the way to Glasglow in 1842. He wanted to travel 68 miles over the course of two days. While biking, Macmillan accidentally knocked down a little girl in the Gorbals, causing her to sustain minor injuries. He has penalized five shillings for committing the same offense. This was the first occurrence of Macmillan’s bicycle journey that was documented.

Macmillan never considered patenting or attempting to market his invention. His bicycle was merely a mode of transportation that allowed him to traverse the tranquil countryside. However, those who saw Macmillan quickly grasped the machine’s potential.

According to legend, Gavin Dalzell of Lesmahagow duplicated Macmillan’s machine in 1846. Since he was so pleased by the design, he has shared its specifics with a large number of individuals for over fifty years. Due to this, Dalzell was credited with inventing the bicycle over five years. Later, they understood who the true inventor was.

After observing Macmillan drive through Glasglow, Thomas McCall improved the bicycle by adding brakes and other significant upgrades. Unbelievably, McCall never patented his bicycle invention and refused all forms of recognition!

Macmillan’s Major Opera

Macmillan is primarily known for inventing the modern bicycle. While constructing a hobbyhorse for himself, the concept of a self-propelled vehicle first occurred to him. He labored to construct a machine that self-propelled with the aid of a rider’s pedal. Macmillan produced the first wooden-framed bicycle with iron-rimmed wheels.

Personal History and Legacy

Macmillan tied the knot with Elizabeth Goldie in 1854. The couple was gifted with twins.
He passed away in Courthill on January 26, 1878. The inscription on his family’s blacksmith shop said, “He built better than he knew.”

Macmillan’s early bicycle is on display at the Glasglow Transport Museum in remembrance of the man who introduced the world to the joy of riding a bicycle.

Estimated Net Worth



He invented the contemporary pedal bicycle.