UWE awards honorary degree to Richard Noble OBE

Issue date: 17 November 2010


The University of the West of England will award the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Technology to Richard Noble OBE in recognition of the alignment between the aims and objectives of the Bloodhound Projectto inspire and motivate, and the University's own vision to do likewise.

The Honorary Degree will be conferred at the Awards Ceremony of Bristol Institute of Technology, on Thursday 18 November at 17.00 at Bristol Cathedral.

Richard Noble was born in Edinburgh in 1946. He studied at Winchester College between 1959 and 1964 and then went on to attend the Army Outward Bound School in Towyn in 1966.

Richard Noble joined ICI in 1966, serving in their Paints Division until 1968, and then their Fibres Division until 1971 where he was responsible for £20m worth of man-made fibre sales. Then, in 1971, Richard Noble began his long association with ground-breaking challenges, forming a team and driving overland from London to Capetown and then Capetown to London via India.

In 1974 he joined the GKN Group, selling building technology overseas until 1980. During this time he also founded the Thrust2 Programme serving as Director of Thrust Cars Ltd until 1983. The Thrust2 car was driven by Richard Noble at a speed of 633.468 mph (1019 km/h), bringing the World Land Speed Record back to Britain in 1983. This achievement has been recognised through a number of awards, and Richard Noble was awarded an OBE in 1983.

After learning to fly as part of the Thrust2 programme, Richard Noble set up the ARV Super2 light aircraft programme, as Director of ARV Aviation Ltd 1983-1988. The Super2 all-metal plane flew after just 13 months from a zero cash/zero engine start-up. Full certification was achieved and production developed employing 125 staff. With 34 aircraft built and sold the company went into administration due to its funding weakness. After the company's demise in 1988 the ARV Super2 went back into production in the US as the Opus in 2006.

Richard Noble also holds the record for the fastest ever triple consecutive Atlantic crossing in Concorde in 1987 (10hrs 17mins flying time).

Between 1994 and 1997 Richard Noble set up the Thrust SSC project as SSC Programme Ltd Director. ThrustSSC, the supersonic car driven by Andy Green, broke the World Land Speed record at 763.035 mph. Richard Noble is now Project Director for the Bloodhound SSC challenge which is developing the 1000mph car and creating substantial academic interest with 3,800 UK schools on the programme.

Richard Noble's projects and start up programmes also include the Atlantic Sprinter (1988-1992) – a stillborn project to develop a high technology ship to achieve the Blue Riband (the un-refuelled Atlantic record from New York to the Scilly Isles), Programme Funding (1993-1994) – a television programme funding company, and the Farnborough F1 (1998-2002) – a taxi aircraft development company.

In 2008 Richard Noble became an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Aerospace Universities and in 2009 he took up a Visiting Professor position in the Faculty of Environment and Technology at the University of the West of England, Bristol.

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