Ronald Price Hickman OBE (21 October 1932 – 17 February 2011) was a South African born, Jersey based car designer and inventor who designed the original Lotus Elan, the Lotus Elan +2 and the Lotus Europa, as well as the Black & Decker Workmate.
He was born in Greytown, Natal, South Africa where he worked as a courthouse clerk after leaving high school and he moved to London in the 1950s where he was employed by a music publisher. He worked for the Ford Motor Company at Dagenham as a stylist and then became the director of Lotus Engineering in the 1960s, designing the first Lotus Europa as part of Lotus' GT40 project bid. He came up with the wood-and-steel foldable Workmate bench when he damaged a chair he was using to steady a piece of wood that he was sawing through when making a wardrobe. His offer of a licence for the product he developed was rejected by several companies who couldn't see a large market for it, so Hickman sold the benches himself to professional builders at trade shows until Black & Decker saw the light in 1973 and began producing them. By 1981 it had sold 10 million benches. More than 30 million of the benches have now been sold, and Hickman defended his patent numerous times against manufacturers attempting to copy it.
In 1977 he moved to Saint Brélade, Jersey, where he had a design factory and belonged to the Jersey Old Motor Club. He died at age 78 in hospital on the island after a five month long illness caused by a serious fall.
- "Inventor of the Workmate dies", John Oates, The Register, February 18, 2011
- http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ron-hickman-ndash-car-designer-and-creator-of-black-amp-decker-workmate-ndash-dies-at-78-2219268.html The Independent.co.uk 19 February 2011, Retrieved 19 February 2011.
- The Times Obituary p92, 19 February 2011.
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