Percy Shaw was born in Halifax, Yorkshire in 1890 and he was a road mender.
Due to the nature of his work he had to drive a lot and he realised that an unlit and winding road could be really dangerous at night. One dark and foggy night as he was driving he saw two small green lights, very close together near the edge of the road. He was curious so he stopped and saw the ‘lights’ were a pair of cats eyes reflecting the light from his head lights. Percy wondered if he could somehow create a simple device that could be embedded in the road to reflect a car head light and so show a driver the road ahead. Percy got back in the car full of ideas and the cat ran off, never to know its impact on future driving!
Percy invented a small device involving two marbles placed close together in a rubber casing; this would then be set in the road at intervals between the lanes of traffic. The device formed a small hump and would reflect the oncoming car headlights to show the way ahead. Percy was not a man to forget a detail and he realised that his new invention would quickly get dirty and stop reflecting the light, so he put a small depression where the marbles are and which would fill with water every time it rained. Any car wheel passing over the device would press the marbles into the depression forcing the water out and thereby cleaning the marbles. In 1935 he formed his own company and named his invention after the inspiration that gave him the idea, Catseye®.
Percy died in 1976 a very rich and clever man and his legacy can be found all over the world, usually wherever you see a road!