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William Harvey du Cros (19 June 1846 – 21 December 1918)[1] was a Dublin-born financier, the founder of the pneumatic tire industry, based on the discovery of John Boyd Dunlop, a Scots-born Belfast veterinary surgeon. Just 65 inches tall[2] and a noted athlete in his youth, he remained an enthusiastic cyclist and a skilful boxer into his middle age.[3] He was briefly a Conservative Party politician of England.

Harvey du Cros
Harvey du Cros.jpg
Member of Parliament
for Hastings (UK Parliament constituency)
Preceded byFreeman Freeman-Thomas
Succeeded byArthur Du Cros
Personal details
Born(1846-06-19)19 June 1846
Dublin, Ireland
Died21 December 1918(1918-12-21) (aged 72)
Political partyConservative and Unionist Party
Spouse(s)Annie Jane Roy
Alma materThe King's Hospital

Early careerEdit

Son of Edouard Pierre du Cros who was of French Huguenot descent and Maria Molloy he was educated at The King's Hospital, Dublin. He married Annie Jane Roy in 1866. Advised when aged 30 to take up sport for the sake of his health, he became Ireland's: boxing champion at two weights; fencing champion; founder and captain of a team which won the Irish Rugby championship and, having six sons by the time he reached his late-twenties, he formed them into a successful team of racing cyclists, The Invincibles, on solid tyred penny farthing bicycles. He was president of the Irish Cyclists' Association.[4]

Later in life he was described by the Revue Franco-Anglaise as dapper, below middle height and of robust build with an expressive face and a high forehead. Quite modest and of a retiring disposition his pleasant open face invited friendship and confidence. He seemed to have a ready willingness to listen.[5]

Pneumatic tyre industryEdit

Two of his sons were beaten in a cycle race by a little-fancied competitor using John Boyd Dunlop's rudimentary pneumatic tyres. Seeing an opportunity du Cros, now well known in Irish business circles and president of the Irish Cyclist's Association, managed to be invited by his friends J M Gillies and Dublin cycle agent, William Bowden, Bowden being the new owner of the rights to Dunlop's patents, to form a public listed company and exploit the patents. Bowden persuaded Dunlop to join them and promote the new company. Du Cros successfully floated the company's shares keeping all arrangements under his own control.[2][4]

In 1896, he sold that company to a group of people including Ernest T Hooley for 3 million pounds. The business was then refloated to the public as Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company in May 1896. That business produced its first car tyre in 1900, considerably after Michelin, and began to diversify into aircraft tyres and golf balls.[4]

Du Cros helped finance the British army's first airship and organised the first motorized movement of British troops.[4]


Within a month of the foundation of the business his sons were recruited to be scattered to the four corners of the globe. They quartered the globe going wherever a cycle business existed.[2]

1= Frederick Hilary du Cros (1868–1917) twin eldest son[6] France
1= Alfred James du Cros (1868–1946) twin[7] North and South America
3. Arthur Philip du Cros (1871–1955)[8] England
4. Harvey du Cros junior (1872–1928) see below[9] North and South America
5. William Ernest du Cros (1874–1937)[10] Belgium
6. George Herbert du Cros (1875–1946)[11] Canada. Made the American continent's first pneumatic tyre in Chicago aged 16 in 1891.


He was elected in the 1906 general election as Member of Parliament for Hastings in East Sussex.[12] He resigned from the House of Commons two years later because of ill health, by the procedural device of accepting the post of Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds. The resulting Hastings by-election of 3 March 1908 was won for the Conservatives by du Cros's son Arthur, later Sir Arthur du Cros, 1st Baronet du Cros.

William Harvey du Cros died at his house Inniscorrig Dalkey county Dublin on 21 December 1918 and was buried in a family vault at Finstock Oxfordshire.[13]

Harvey du Cros junior 1872–1928Edit

130–134 Long Acre London showing clockwise Austin Motor Co, Mulliner Motor Carriages, Gladiator Cars, Du Cros Mercedes, Swift cars c. 1910

Born in Dublin 15 March 1872 the son of Harvey du Cros (above) and his wife Annie Jane Roy he was one of six sons. His father sent him from England to America in 1892, still aged 19, to found a pneumatic tyre business there but he was unable to sign the necessary deeds until his 21st birthday. He formed a long enduring link with what became the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. He later left his father's Dunlop business founding the Swift Motor Company and the Yellow Cab Company. He was also the importer of Mercedes motorcars to Britain beginning when few cars were made in Britain. With Frank Kayser of Kayser Ellison Steel a major backer of Herbert Austin when Austin formed his own business he was deputy chairman of the Austin Motor Company and held many other directorships. He died 1 November 1928 in Longwood Maidenhead and was interred at Finstock Oxfordshire.[14][15]

Du Cros co-owned the Motor Power Company with S. F. Edge and they imported the French Clement-Gladiator cars, often known as Gladiators, into the UK.[16]


  1. ^ "House of Commons constituencies beginning with "H" (part 2)". Leigh Rayment's House of Commons pages. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Sir Arthur Du Cros, Bt, Wheels of Fortune, a salute to pioneers, Chapman & Hall, London 1938
  3. ^ Mr. Harvey Du Cros. The Times, Monday, 23 Dec 1918; pg. 6; Issue 41980
  4. ^ a b c d Martin Adeney, ‘Du Cros, (William) Harvey (1846–1918)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  5. ^ as reported in: Sir Arthur Du Cros, Bt, Wheels of Fortune, a salute to pioneers, Chapman & Hall, London 1938
  6. ^ Deaths. The Times, Saturday, 19 May 1917; pg. 1; Issue 41482
  7. ^ Deaths. The Times, Monday, 23 December 1946; pg. 1; Issue 50641
  8. ^ Deaths. The Times, Monday, 31 October 1955; pg. 1; Issue 53365
  9. ^ Deaths. The Times, Friday, 2 November 1928; pg. 1; Issue 45040
  10. ^ Deaths. The Times, Monday, 27 September 1937; pg. 1; Issue 47800
  11. ^ Deaths. The Times, Wednesday, 27 March 1946; pg. 1; Issue 50411
  12. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 120. ISBN 0-900178-27-2.
  13. ^ Deaths. The Times, Monday, 23 December 1918; pg. 1; Issue 41980
  14. ^ Mr. Harvey Du Cros. The Times, Friday, 2 November 1928; pg. 19; Issue 45040
  15. ^ R J Wyatt, The Austin 1905–1952, David & Charles, Newton Abbott, 1981 ISBN 0715379488
  16. ^ Unique cars, Founding fathers – Gustave Clement

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