PETER HOBSON – BATTLESPACE BUSINESSMAN OF THE YEAR
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor BATTLESPACE
The first time I met Peter Hobson to talk to in depth was 2005; I knew then that here was a very capable man whose business acumen and expertise was shrouded in his failure to portray this expertise and knowledge to the outside world, a trait I have found in most of the engineers I have interviewed over the years!
It turned out that he remembered meeting me in my days at SMC Engineering in Bristol in the 1980s when he came down to buy those components we did not require in the build process of our 6×6 Land Rovers. At DVD in 2006, Peter said that he had never invited a journalist to his Donington on Bain facility and invited me to come up. Peter’s demeanour suggest that he is gruff, but clever, an armourer and vehicle specialist with a small business run from a garden shed from home. How wrong I was!
My visit in November 2006 took in a tour of his 4½ acre facility with a workforce approaching fifty people with some of the most modern machine tools I had seen for some time, accompanied by his huge storage shed with enough spares to run a fleet of Land Rovers for twenty years. All this with accompanying ISO, Recycling and MoD Qualifications. The tour ended with a visit to Peter’s ballistic facility which has some of the most modern ballistic testing equipment and an indoor range. It turned out that Peter shoots for England and Great Britain and had designed his own rifle to win two gold and one silver medal at the 2006 ‘F’ Class International Championships held in Canada and the annual Queen’s Prize F Class Championship held at Bisley this year.
I said to him on leaving, “Why haven’t you told anybody about this?” “Land Rover agreed to do my PR when we signed the Agreement appointing us as a Land Rover Approved Vehicle Reconditioner in 1994” was his reply. If Land Rover wasn’t going to profile this company, I decided that BATTLSEPACE would! After many visits with or without other interested parties, it was obvious Peter had achieved something very unique and quite rightly deserved this year’s award.
Since my first visit, I have taken many visitors to Donington on Bain, all of whom have come away with the same opinion.
“How did you get into the engineering business?”
“My father was second engineer for Findus Foods in Grimsby specialising in food production machinery. I went into the Navy at the age of fifteen and it rapidly became clear that I was destined for the Engineering Branch of the Service and entered as a JEM 2 (U/A) (Untrained/Underage) 2 Electrical Mechanical Rating. During the re-organisation of the Navy, I changed over from electrical to weapons, having earlier covered most of the hydraulic and pneumatic systems. I was involved in the trials of the first Rolls-Royce RB-211 gas turbine engine system on the Type 22 destroyer; I became Charge Chief in 1974. After that I joined MoD PE as a Sea Wolf Engineer and saw through the first weapon fits and then went to HMS Glasgow as I/C Weapons acting Deputy Weapons Officer (DWO). After the Falklands conflict, I again joined Captain Weapons Trials to upgrade the Sea Wolf system and then went on to commission the BMARC cannons being bought into Royal Navy service. I moved to Donington on Bain in 1978 when it was just a house and a shed.”
“How did you get into the Land Rover business?”
“I had become fascinated by Land Rovers and like all Land Rover enthusiasts I had bought my first Land Rover in 1973 but I couldn’t afford to run it or find spares. (A common problem witnessed by the Editor with his first Land Rover in 1969!). All of the high flying engineers had migrated to the higher end of the automobile market, I thought I could provide better parts support and put the quality back into what was rapidly becoming the iconic vehicle it is today. But, to achieve this aim, I needed to source the required parts and this was almost impossible given t