Railton Water Speed

When it comes to trains, planes, boats and automobiles, the UK has a long and illustrious history of cutting edge and sometimes revolutionary design. Think RJ Mitchell with the Supermarine Schneider Trophy racers that led to the Spitfire, or Frank Whittle and his success with a workable jet engine against all the odds. Inspired by visits to Bugatti, Nigel Gresley produced streamlined steam locomotives that culminated in the Mallard – still the world’s fastest steam locomotive.

But it’s arguably land and water speed record breaking where the engineers and technicians behind outright record holders have captured public imagination the most. 

Richard Noble
Richard Noble at the cairn alongside Loch Ness close to the place where the boat crashed and sank

From Parry Thomas through to Henry Segrave, Malcolm Campbell ( later his son Donald) and on to George Eyston, John Cobb, Richard Noble and Andy Green, these are men whose exploits have thrilled people but just as importantly have provided the spark that ignites an interest in science and technology for successive generations. Sometimes they were the engineers behind their own projects – most notably Parry Thomas – but usually their success came about because they recognised and recruited engineers who pushed beyond known design barriers rather than following existing norms.

Of those engineers, one is arguably the most notable and talented of all. Here, former land speed record holder Richard Noble OBE explains what it was that provided the spark to ignite his interest in record breaking and the engineer behind what it was that he witnessed. Read more …