MACMILLAN’S MARVELLOUS MOTION MACHINE for BBC Radio 4 is the story of the Scots blacksmith, Kirkpatrick Macmillan, who is credited with the invention of the pedal bicycle.
According to the story, he was known locally as ‘Daft Pate’ Macmillan for being a crazy inventor. Then he set off to Glasgow on his velocipede and prove them all wrong. Sadly it didn’t work out – he hit a small child and was fined for speeding. The plaque on his smiddy in Keir is poignant – ‘he builded better than he knew’ – and I thought he might appreciate a bit of posthumous recognition.
Lots of research needed – bicycle science, blacksmithing, Scottish and cycle history… and I was in touch with some wonderful velocipede experts around the country. The play was brought to life by a fabulous, funny cast:
Macmillan – Scott Hoatson
Machine/Burnie/Stott/Dalziel/Todd – John Kazek
Wull/Duke/Stott/Judge/Uncle – Gavin Mitchell
Catherine/Meg/Maid/Mother/Jeannie – Gabriel Quigley
Deef Agnes/Duchess/Old Mrs Mac/Mrs Scott – Isabella Jarrett
Wee Todd/Child – Leo MacNeill
MACMILLAN’S MARVELLOUS MOTION MACHINE was magnificently directed by Rosie Kellagher, produced by Marilyn Imrie, and recorded at Pencaitland Castlesound Studios for Catherine Bailey Productions. There’s a tiny clip over on the Open University page here, where you can hear Macmillan hurtling down a hill, without brakes…
(Pic is a from later reconstruction of the Macmillan-type machine)