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Freedom of Ryde for electric car builder John Ackroyd

John Ackroyd will receive the Freedom of Ryde. Photo courtesy of Isle of Wight Hidden Heroes.

John Ackroyd will receive the Freedom of Ryde. Photo courtesy of Isle of Wight Hidden Heroes.

David Newble

[email protected]

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 16:09

ONE of the Isle of Wight's 'Hidden Heroes' who built the first electric city car in the 1970s and designed the record breaking 'Thrust 2', John Ackroyd, looks set to be given the Freedom of Ryde.

The new honour will be discussed by members of Ryde Town Council thanks to an idea put forward by Green Ryde councillor, Michael Lilley.

Mr Ackroyd, now 80, who lives in the town also helped to design two-record beating high-altitude balloons.

He started his working life at Saunders Roe as an apprentice and was quickly noticed as a man of strong talents, becoming involved in the 1950's ground-breaking projects such as the earliest of mixed jet and rocket propulsion fighter jets - the experimental SR.53 and SR.177.

He later also worked on an early Hovercraft competitor, the Cushioncraft (subsidiary of Britten Norman) but on the St Helens Duver.

His next major achievement was his involvement with the Enfield 8000 - the first production electric car.

With the global oil crisis of 1973, its timing was spot on, but a combination of the Enfield being too far ahead of its time, and its cost of £2,600 - the equivalent price of two Minis - by 1976 productions had stopped.

His early experience with early jet fighters at Saunders Roe and the designs he created in his own time led to his involvement with Thrust 2 with Richard Noble.

Mr Ackroyd said: "Richard Noble was based in London - where the money was - and I was based on the Isle of Wight where the skills were."

Thrust 2 went on to capture the Land Speed World record reaching 633.468 mph (1,019.468 km/h) in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, US, on 4 October 1983. It stood for 14 years.

 


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