Baby buggy

The connection between a Spitfire plane and a pram

Owen Finlay Maclaren (Saffron Walden, 1907 – Barby, April 13, 1978)

What does it mean when a person comes from the famous Scottish family clan Maclaren? For example, when Andrew Maclaren, the father of Owen Finlay Maclaren, was forced to do military service at the outbreak of the First World War, he drove up to the barracks in a Rolls-Royce.

In addition, he had his butler with him. Unfortunately, he died of typhus a few months later. So that we will never know what else he wanted to amaze the world with.

His son Owen was only seven years old at the time of his father's death. He, too, was apparently drawn to the army. For many years he worked as a test pilot and then he ended up in the design department of the Air Force.

Even before the Second World War, he was involved in drawing the famous Spitfires, the fighter planes that had to counter the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain.

Owen Maclaren was directly responsible for the development of a pitfire landing gear that could descend and take off against the wind. In 1942 he invented a device that allowed a Spitfire to survive even after a bullet had pierced the radiator.

He gained a lot of knowledge about light materials, light structures that could easily carry a complete aircraft, and that could be folded very neatly to disappear into the aircraft.

Any pilot can confirm that good landing gear is just as important as a good engine.

After the war, he and his friend Bill Andrews founded the Andrews Maclaren company, which mainly produced parts for aircraft. A simple consumer product was a picnic chair called Gadabout, which you could open and close like an umbrella.

Maclaren had made good money over the years.

He bought a large fifteenth century farmhouse in Northamptonshire, just south of Rugby, and restored it beautifully. To enjoy a peaceful old age, he retired at the age of 55. He had a son and a daughter. Coincidentally, his daughter Janet was married to an executive of the American airline Panamerican Airlines. Janet gave birth to a baby girl and had to travel by plane to Great Britain from half the world. The classic pram made traveling difficult.

Grandpa Maclaren was over the moon when he could go out with his first grandchild in a pram in his little village of Barby. But the cart was clumsy and unwieldy. Things went so smoothly that the old designer in him woke up again.

What if he transferred his knowledge of landing gear to such a car, he wondered.

Baby Stroller Patent Application 1965 Encouraged by Janet and her husband, Owen set to work in the abandoned horse stables of his farm. By 1965, when he was 57 years old, he had completed a prototype. It was very light to begin with.

Owen had worked with an aluminum tube frame just like in aviation. The cart weighed no more than three kilograms. In addition, he had provided a mechanism with which you could open and close it just like a landing gear or an umbrella.

That was the first baby buggy.

Buggy was originally the name for a light cart with one horse or an open car. Maclaren, who knew something about patents, applied for a patent on July 20, 1965. Two years later he had produced a thousand units in his stables.

Now the baby buggies could finally enter the market. Owen Maclaren, who had thought he was enjoying a quiet old age, was overwhelmed by success.

By 1976 he had produced 600,000 pieces, half of which were for the foreign market, with the help of twenty women from the village, among others.

The English queen was also so charmed by the buggy that she honored the inventor with a noble ribbon in early 1978. Maclaren died a few months later.

The Financial Times later quoted one of his managers as recalling how, on the occasion of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, Maclaren had treated all employees to a day off and carried crates of champagne himself: 'He was a smashing old man.'

"More of an engineer than a businessman," said another employee. “I doubt he had a business strategy. He especially found satisfaction in the fact that he had invented something useful that created employment for the region.'

After Maclaren's death, the strange pram, which is actually a remodeled Spitfire undercarriage, conquered the whole world with millions of units. Son and daughter Maclaren sold the company in 1988.

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