While many of us may have driven past Fort Dunlop, just off the M6 at junction 5, not so many of us will be aware that this location is the original tyre factory and main office of Dunlop Rubber. In fact, it is not very widely known that Dunlop Rubber was founded in Birmingham with John Boyd Dunlop discovering and developing the first pneumatic tyre.
Here at Longbridge Tyres, we are longtime stockists of premium Dunlop tyres and based in Birmingham, so we run you through a basic history of Dunlop – including a short rundown of their illustrious motorsport history and some of the numbers over the years.
The Background of Dunlop Rubber
Dunlop Rubber, a former company focused on the manufacturing of rubber goods, was founded by Harvey du Cros in 1889. John Boyd Dunlop then worked alongside du Cros to found Dunlop Tyres in the same year by creating the first pneumatic tyre. From here, Dunlop Rubber (and it’s initial subsidiary, Dunlop Tyres) grew to be one of the largest British enterprises and also one of the first multinational companies.
John Boyd Dunlop actually dropped ties with the Dunlop Rubber company before his name could be connected to any of the products that were subsequent to his invention.
Due to a reluctance to adapt to, or keep up with, modern technology in the 1970s, Dunlop Rubber was pushed out of the market by tyres far more durable. This lead to the disbanding of the company in 1985 as Dunlop was acquired by BTR. Since then, the subsequent subsidiaries of Dunlop and their respective trading names operate separately (many under the management of conglomerates).
Success came early for Dunlop Tyres with Willie Hume winning 7 out of a possible 8 cycling competitions in 1889 as a publicity stunt for the brand. In between then and now, the company went from strength to strength: adding countless accolades to their trophy cabinet.
The infamous Fort Dunlop, a section of the original Dunlop factory in Erdington, Birmingham, was dedicated to motorsport – from vintage to motorcycles, touring cars, and beyond. At their peak, this division was producing 300,000 tyres per year and lasted from 1891 to 2014.
The history of Dunlop Tyres is illustrious – and has been from the start – boasting a range of titles that include the Formula 1 Grand Prix, land speed records, and Le Mans 24h races.
Birmingham’s Motoring History
In essence, Dunlop Tyres is a testament to the motorsport history steeped in the roots of Birmingham. The aftermath of the industrial revolution meant that Birmingham was a hub of manufacturing, which facilitated the creation of a heritage motorsport brand in Dunlop Tyres.
Here at Longbridge Tyres, we stock a range of premium tyres that includes Dunlop Tyres. If you’d like to hear more, please visit us in our Birmingham store, or call us on 0121 457 7582 or fill out our contact form.