The London inventor who was tragically killed by his own creation

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The list of inventors who have been directly or indirectly killed by their own inventions is not short.

Some of the inventions were necessary and paved the way for future genius – others were… not.

For example: there was really no need for Franz Reichelt to build a wingsuit in 1912, and there was really really no need for him to “prove its worth” by leaping off the Eiffel Tower wearing it – especially after so many tests with dummies had failed.

READ MORE:Astonishing pictures show what was at Heathrow before the sprawling airport was built

While inventor Thomas Midgley Jr, who contracted polio in his fifties and so created a system of ropes and pulleys to make it easier for him to be lifted out of bed, died when he became entangled and strangled by them.

And one of London’s own inventors came to a tragic end after inventing the world’s first traffic island.

The traffic island isn’t praised nearly enough.

Getting across one of London’s busy roads is a bit of a feat, a bit of a dash – and a traffic island provides the opportunity to take a break in the middle of it all.



Traffic island on St James’s Street, London.

Before traffic islands, everyone simply had to navigate two major lanes of traffic – which, in 1845, involved big lumbering wheels and the heavy clomp of hooves.

Colonel Pierpoint ran into this problem when he attended a club in Pall Mall in the St Jame’s area of London.

It was a busy street, and he was fearful of being run over on his way to his club – or, let’s be honest, the bigger worry was probably crossing the road after leaving it, several drinks deep.

To solve the issue, he funded London’s first traffic island.



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It must be nice to make a mark on the city – the world, in fact.

And he was, it was safe to say, proud of it.

Some sources say he was in the habit of turning around to admire it and lost his footing, others say he dashed across the road to get a look at it – we can’t be sure exactly what happened.

What we are sure of, though, is that while in the process of admiring his traffic island, Colonel Pierpoint was hit by a cab, and died.

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