Jimi Heselden died last week in a Segway scooter accident. He was, according to his obituary notices, the epitome of the entrepreneurial inventor from the gritty side of Leeds. He developed the gabion into an international manufacturing company that provided flat-packing wire and canvas frames that, when filled with sand or gravel or building debris or whatever is at hand, forms a heavy wall against erosion, mortars, bullets, landslides. The R-House is a fortified building: a square of bastions with a heavy canvas top strapped over for a roof: 'living space for six to eight people against the potentially devastating after-effects of any disaster'.
Hesco is divided into humanitarian, civil and military applications with many variations of the basic frame filled with rubble. RAID is a 400m concertina wall packed into a 20' container. It pulls out of the containter, a meter wide and 2.2m high, providing instant cover. On the website it shows a truck shooting down a track the RAID wall flooding out behind it. Once standing it can be filled, or used for storage, but its main use is as an instant forward operating base. It's a terrific concept – fast, effective; thundering music in the little video demo brings home that war needs ideas, and it needs someone to put those ideas in place. Lives depend on them.
The Hesco website is full of information and photographs of the most amazing products. Heavily copyrighted, thus no images here. However, when looking up the history of the gabion, I find it is an ancient war defence, once used by Leonardo da Vinci for foundation fortification.
Heselden gave away millions to charity, he bought Segway just last year as the future of personal transportation able to be developed in many different ways. He was on one when it tumbled over a cliff near his home. A freak accident cutting short a canny, clever, generous, visionary life.