Five former students, who cut a swathe 50 years ago when they rode a Ransomes Matador mower non-stop from Edinburgh to London’s Hyde Park in just four days, got back together recently to commemorate their epic journey. Ransomes Jacobsen, based on Ransomes Europark in Ipswich, who still manufacture the Matador, hosted a two-day event to help them celebrate their remarkable achievement.
Back in 1959, Tom Hudson, Mike Smith, Mike Savage, Hugh Tansley and John Wilson, who were students at Hatfield Technical College and former employees of the De Havilland Aircraft Company, wanted to test the reliability of small petrol engines, so they hatched a plot to see if they could drive a small petrol-engined mower from Edinburgh to London.
The mower was slightly modified with a larger sump added to the 288cc Villiers engine to provide enough lubrication for the non-stop 400 mile trip.
The trip was set for Easter 1959. The five students left Edinburgh Castle and four days and three nights later they rode into Hyde Park to be greeted by a high-powered reception committee of Royal Park’s staff, Ransomes top management and dealer representatives, a BBC television crew and the press.
Mike Smith contacted Ransomes Jacobsen and they readily agreed to support a reunion and a plan was hatched help the team members celebrate their remarkable achievement of 50 years ago.
David Withers, Managing Director of Ransomes Jacobsen said,“We are absolutely delighted to be in a position to help the team celebrate their epic achievement of 50 years ago. It would be difficult to replicate what they achieved, even today. It says a lot about the quality of the equipment we built back then; a tradition that we carry on today. After 50 years, I’m delighted that all of the team are still with us; that we’re still producing quality turf care equipment in Ipswich – and we’re still producing the Matador mower, albeit with some technological enhancements from the original.”