Another two remarkable veterinarians - Veterinary Practice
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Another two remarkable veterinarians

Bruce Vivash Jones continues his series on characters within the profession with a brief account of the remarkable lives of two more from the 19th century.

A FEW of us have more than one
talent, starting on life’s journey in
one guise but finding that we are
best known for something totally
different. Probably John Boyd
Dunlop, arguably the world’s most
well-known veterinary surgeon, but
not because of his profession, is the
best example.

Dunlop graduated in Edinburgh in
1859 and in 1867 moved to Ireland
and started a
practice with his younger brother.
He prospered: he
was competent, a
hard worker and
showed significant
care for his

He had an inventive mind, followed
developments in human and veterinary
medicine and was concerned about
zoonotic diseases, in particular
tuberculosis. Dunlop became an active
campaigner for clean milk production,
isolation of sick animals, hygiene and use of disinfectants. He pressed
for clean meat and milk legislation,
regarding these as social issues that the
profession should address.

As an observant man he had for
some time wondered how wheeled
vehicles used over cobbled streets
could be improved to reduce the constant
shaking and jarring. His
son Johnny had a tricycle
and complained about
riding it over Belfast

Dunlop was triggered
into action: he took over
a bedroom (to his wife’s
distress) and set to work.
He reasoned that the
vibration had to be stopped at the
point of origin – where the rim of the
wheel met the road. Making a tube out

of India-rubber sheet (already having
some for use in the practice), fastening
this by canvas to a wooden disc and
in ating with a football pump, he
started his trials. And so his pneumatic
tyre for bicycles evolved: he was
granted a patent in 1888.

It later transpired that he was not
the first with this idea but he was the first who made it work. Up to this
point Dunlop had no outside help and his only equipment was India-rubber
sheeting, canvas, wood, steel strips,
wire and nails, plus scissors, hammer
and rubber solution.

Shortly afterwards Dunlop sold his
practice, moved to Dublin, formed a
company and started into business. He
was not really happy doing this and
later sold his patents for £300 and then
in 1895 sold his company shares for
£40,000. Only a year later the company
was sold for £3 million.

Dunlop was a modest man, an
idealist rather than a materialist and had little interest in money
(to his wife’s concern). He
was, however, interested in
being a veterinary surgeon.
It had not occurred to him that his bicycle tyre
would be used as a basis
for motor tyres and as a
result would revolutionise
transport. It enabled the internal combustion engine to develop and thus
provided a precondition for achieving flight.

His invention advanced
mankind. Henry Ford placed John
Dunlop in his listing of the 25 greatest
men who had ever lived; he had his
name inscribed on the front of his
office building.

In retrospect, Dunlop can be seen
to have been a genuinely dedicated
individual who tried to bene t
mankind – he regarded his work in
veterinary medicine as his greatest
achievement. To him it ranked higher
than his pneumatic tyre invention.

On his death in 1921 he left
£9,687.6s.0d; his obituary in The
Veterinary Record
was of just 40
lines, with not a word about his
contributions to veterinary medicine,
mostly made in their own columns.

Untutored artist

Mention was made of Captain
Adrian Jones in a previous article and his experiences in
the Abyssinian War of
1868. He served in the
Army for 23 years with a
gradual realisation that his
real talent was developing:
he was a natural artist and painted at every
opportunity, usually

He developed a
splendid untutored talent;
as a result he was always
viewed with suspicion
by the conservative
academicians who
believed that legitimate artists must
have attended conventional schools.

While in the Army, an artist friend
encouraged Jones to take up sculpture
as he had a “remarkable anatomical
knowledge of horses”.

His first piece was exhibited at the
Royal Academy in 1884, and when he
left the Army four years later he was
almost overwhelmed
by commissions
for paintings and

He was soon
widely recognised,
not something that
happens in the lifetime
of every artist. In 1935
he received, rather
belatedly, the Gold
Medal of the Royal
Society of British

Fortunately, Jones’
work is available for
us to see. One of his
most glorious pieces,
“Duncan’s Horses”, was first shown at
the Royal Academy in 1892; it now sits
on the lawns of the Royal Veterinary
College at Hawkshead House.

His masterpiece work, his crowning
glory, is the massive statuary of
“Peace Descending on the Quadriga of War”, in 1912 placed
atop Decimus Burton’s
Wellington Arch at Hyde
Park Corner.

Taking over three years
to cast, at the time it
was the largest piece of
sculpture produced in
the country: it weighs 38
tons and the Peace figure
stands 14 feet high.

When you are next
in London raise your
eyes and look at it – a
magnificent sight –
towering over one of London’s main traffic intersections.
Jones left a great quantity of work:
many paintings, usually of horses but also portraits of Earl Haig and Lord
Kitchener, and sculpture.

Near the Wellington Arch you can
see the Royal Marines Memorial (1902),
an equestrian statue of the Duke of
Cambridge (1907) and the Cavalry War Memorial (1924) – and
many more besides,
both in the UK and

While Adrian
Jones lived a full and
productive life, it was
not without problems
and obstacles with
the artistic world.
The academic
establishment never
admitted him to the
Royal Academy, but
he was widely praised
and loved by his many
fans: the popular press
described him as “the grand old man of sculpture”.

He lived to be 93, going out most days and often wearing his Abyssinian
War cloak.

He said, “It has kept me warm for 68
years and I always wear it when I go to
the club.”

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