23 February 1963: The case of the electrified Land Rover

On this day in 1963, an unsuspecting bobby gets a shock when he stumbles upon an electrified Land Rover.

Most of us would probably do almost anything to avoid getting a parking ticket. But few would go as far as a Sussex farmer in 1963, who, in his own words, was waging a “private war” against an enemy that was new to the capital – traffic wardens.

With his lorries bulging with produce from his farm, 40-year-old Peter Hicks would regularly drive to Covent Garden to set up shop. But as anyone who has driven in central London knows, finding somewhere to park is tricky, especially when you have a fleet of lorries. So, he parked them illegally on Shorts Gardens, near Seven Dials.

Before long, the parking fines started to rack up – about £30 a week. That's around £630 in today's money. But Hicks didn't want to pay. 

He took a device that usually runs an electric current through the fences on his farm and attached it to his Land Rover. His car now had 2,000 volts running through it – enough to give anyone who placed a ticket on it a jolt. (Remember, it's not the voltage that's dangerous, but the level of amps – the flow of electric current. So, while 2,000 sounds like a lot, the amps were kept low.)

He then placed his Land Rover so it was bumper to bumper with his parked lorries. Now the whole convoy was electrified. And lo and behold, the parking tickets dried up. "I've watched quite a few wardens cop it, trying to put a ticket on my truck", he told the BBC. "They gave up in disgust and shock!"

Then one day, 23 February 1963, a passing police constable stopped to examine the strange ticking noise coming from the Land Rover. He “received a nasty shock”, as did his intrigued sergeant and a police inspector. Hicks was arrested for assault.

The prosecutors would later decide that they couldn't make the charges stick, and his electric fence device was returned. Hicks agreed that he'd made his point.

Recommended

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?
Personal finance

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?

The weather is getting colder and energy bills are rising, but is it really cheaper to leave the heating on low all day or should you only turn it on …
1 Dec 2022
The best offers for switching banks – get up to £200 free cash
Personal finance

The best offers for switching banks – get up to £200 free cash

Looking to move bank accounts? You can now bag as much as £200 for switching current accounts from two major banks
1 Dec 2022
UK stock market opening times: when will the stock market close for Christmas?
Stockmarkets

UK stock market opening times: when will the stock market close for Christmas?

Here is everything you need to know about UK stock market opening times during the Christmas period of 2022.
1 Dec 2022
December Premium Bond winners: NS&I reveals the jackpot winners
Savings

December Premium Bond winners: NS&I reveals the jackpot winners

NS&I Premium Bond winners announced – how to check if you are winner.
1 Dec 2022

Most Popular

Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?
Personal finance

Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?

Sales of portable heaters have soared, as households look to cut their energy costs. But which is better: a fan heater or an oil heater? We put them t…
21 Nov 2022
Best regular savings accounts – December 2022
Savings

Best regular savings accounts – December 2022

You can earn an attractive rate on the best regular savings accounts. We tell you the best on the market to take advantage of right now
1 Dec 2022
Wood-burning stove vs central heating ‒ which is cheapest?
Personal finance

Wood-burning stove vs central heating ‒ which is cheapest?

Demand for wood-burning stoves has surged as households try to reduce their heating costs this winter. But how does a wood burner compare with central…
29 Nov 2022