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The real visionary behind Cat's Eyes

It is an invention that we all take for granted. The cat's eye has been guiding drivers since its invention in the early 1930's. Enabling vehicles to travel in the dark, the fog and during the blackout of World War II, whilst helping to save numerous lives on the UK's roads, the invention of the cat's eye is credited to Percy Shaw.

Shaw patented his idea in 1934, however, two years earlier a patent application was lodged by Frederick Walter Madeley Lee entitled 'Improvements to and relating to road signs and the like'. This patent application, lodged on 20th January 1932, outlined Lee's idea to install reflectors in recesses along road kerbstones or in posts driven in to the ground along the road side, helping drivers to see the road during night and in limited visibility.

In Patent Application Number 1728/32, Lee described how these reflectors should be placed at suitable intervals along the road, pointing in the direction of on coming traffic so headlights illuminated the reflectors to show the position of the kerb and consequently the course of the road. He also added that the sunken position of the reflectors would protect them from damage and mud