A rival actually laid the first road stud markers in Leicestershire in March 1934. But that didn't deter Shaw from setting up his own company, Reflecting Roadstuds Ltd, in 1935, and a year later he installed the first 50 of his own products of reflective road stud markers in the road edge at an accident blackspot outside Bradford. The Ministry of Transport became interested, and Shaw got his chance to prove his designs of reflective road stud markers when official tests of competing systems began in 1937. After two years, all his rivals had dropped out because their designs either broke or silted up.
The Second World War arrived, and Britain's roads needed to be kept as dark as possible. Afterwards, though, and amid rising concern about night-time accidents, the government introduced road stud markers nationwide. Percy Shaw's contribution to road safety was recognized in 1965 when he was appointed OBE, and on the back of his cash-generating patents and export success he was soon a multi-millionaire, with an eccentric lifestyle. "Because theroad stud markerswere patented, and because he was a careful Yorkshireman, he wouldn't let anyone else produce them, even under licence," Whicker recalled.
"He insisted everything stay with him, so he wasn't half as rich as he might have been. But at least he knew he hadn't been diddled by anybody." Shaw died in 1976, aged 86, but his business is still in family hands and his life-saving legacy to drivers remains - no matter what the authorities intend to do to it.