Dunlop Rubber Company Limited

The Dunlop Rubber Company takes its name from John Boyd Dunlop, the first person to put the pneumatic principle into everyday use by making an air filled tube tyre for bicycles. However, he was only involved with the company from 1889 to 1894, when he joined a rival firm, Tubeless (Fleuss) Pneumatic Tyre Company.

The original company was the Pneumatic Tyre and Booth's Cycle Agency Ltd, founded in 1888 in Dublin. The name Dunlop Rubber Company was first used in 1889 for a private company created to serve as one of the manufacturing units for the founder company. This founder company changed its name several times: in 1893 to the Pneumatic Tyre Company Limited; in 1896 to the Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company Limited and in 1913 to the Parent Tyre Company Limited. In 1931 the founder company went into liquidation.

In the meantime, Harvey Du Cros (who had helped to form the Pneumatic Tyre and Booth's Cycle Agency Ltd.) was providing finance to Byrne Bros., a Birmingham business engaged in the production of general rubber goods. In 1896 Byrne Bros. underwent flotation on the stock market as the Rubber Tyre Manufacturing Company based at Para Mill with the intention of building a new factory, Manor Mills, alongside it. Du Cros purchased the Manor Mills and the Rubber Tyre Manufacturing Company in 1900 and 1901 respectively, and the two companies were amalgamated to form the Dunlop Rubber Company Limited. This company purchased the founder company in 1912.

In subsequent years Dunlop expanded into a vast multinational organisation. By 1946 there were 90,000 shareholders and 70,000 employees with factories in, any different countries, sales outlets in nearly every country, and rubber plantations in Southeast Asia (from 1910). Apart from merely producing tyres, the Dunlop Rubber Company Limited made cycle rims and motor car wheels from 1906, and in 1910 Dunlop developed its first aeroplane tyre and golf ball. In 1914 developed a process of spinning and doubling cotton for a new tyre fabric. A collapse in trade in 1922 after the post-World War 1 boom led to financial and administrative reorganisation, but the inter war period also saw the development of Latex foam cushioning (sold by the subsidiary, Dunlopillo) and expansion by way of new factories in South Africa and India. In 1924 the company expanded into manufacturing tennis balls and in 1925 acquired A. A. Davis, which had tennis racket manufacturing expertise. The company acquired Charles Macintosh of Manchester in 1926.

After World War II (during which Dunlop played a major part as suppliers of tyres and rubber goods to the Allied forces). Dunlop expanded further to produce sports goods, sponge rubber, precision bearings and adhesives. In 1967, the company changed its name from the Dunlop Rubber Company Ltd to Dunlop Ltd, to reflect the more diversified nature of the business and in 1971 Dunlop merged with Pirelli of Italy. The merger was not successful, and was dissolved in 1981. The European tyre business was sold to its former subsidiary, Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd of Japan in 1983 and the following year the remaining tyre factories in New Zealand and India were sold for £200 million. Dunlop Holdings Limited (encompassing the whole company) was bought by BTR plc in 1985.