People Mover inventor John Parry dies aged 85

John Parry, creator of the Parry People Mover brand of ultra-light vehicle that has become part of the UK transport vocabulary, died in hospital on February 17 after a short illness. He was 85 and was working to the end.

Parry, a lively campaigner for cheaper-to-run, energy-efficient transport, never gave up his battle for its greater recognition, despite only making one major breakthrough into the UK market.

Under the independent management of Pre-Metro Operations, a pair of Class 139 Parry People Movers have worked the 0.8-mile Stourbridge Junction-Stourbridge ten-minute interval shuttle with great success since 2009.

Parry, a versatile engineer, was in government service overseas for many years, and was awarded the MBE for his work in Africa, where he exported highly successful tile-making machines.

His main love in later years was public transport, and he was seen regularly at railway exhibitions and trade fairs.

He suffered continued disappointment that despite the sound principles of his PPM design and support from environmentalist groups, he was unable to get transport bodies or train operators to sign on the bottom line - even though they sometimes included his vehicles in their franchise bids to the Department for Transport.

Parry’s Cradley Heath workshops secured regular support from shareholders. But his dream of seven production designs, including a 120-seat two-car unit, were never realised.

The Stourbridge branch, reputed to be the shortest in Europe, is operated by West Midlands Trains, and offers a remarkable 97 round trips every weekday between 0545 and 2354, plus 43 return journeys on Sundays.

The Class 139s, powered by straightforward Ford 86hp 2.3-litre LPG-fuel engines used in vans and trucks, have flywheels to capture the energy generated and then reuse it for acceleration and powering on-board systems.

A third vehicle, now 139012, was purchased and rebuilt by Lightweight Community Transport as a demonstrator.

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