JOHN PARKER


World records are synonymous with the name John Parker, for it was in 1984 that he first broke the record for the furthest distance driven by a single coachman when he drove from Bristol to London stopping only to change teams. This record stood unbroken for 12 years until 1996, when to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the last Royal Mail Coach to run from London to Norwich, John broke the record again. This time driving his London-Norwich Royal Mail Coach the 139 miles from London to Norwich, and completing the journey in an incredible in 21.5 hours.

John's 50 year career start ed in the Royal Army Service Corps where he was coachman, but left to become a stunt driver in films - his credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Dr. Doolittle and The Wrong Box. He then turned to competitive driving and successfully represented Great Britain eleven times at World and European Driving Championships, and in 1982 he gave up competition to concentrate on displays, television and activities with his London-Norwich Royal Mail Coach, one of only two licensed to carry the Royal Mail.

The first of his two appearances on ITV's 'You Bet' was when John challenged five times Le Mans winner and World Sports Car Champion, Derek Bell to a race - John with his horses and Bennington Phaeton, and Derek in a Range Rover. - Derek won, but only just, so was promptly issued with another challenge - that John and his team of grooms could swap one team of horses for another faster than Dereks' mechanics could change a set of tyres.

You Bet's audience of millions were enthralled when John's young grooms changed the horses in 21.2 seconds, not only beating the mechanics but also setting a new official World Record and entering the Guinness Book of Records.

The Challenge of car versus horse has since been recreated at various shows around the country including the Olympia International Show Jumping Championships, and in 1992 John was invited to Maestro Luciano Pavarotti's show in Modena, Italy.

At the Horse of the Year Show John performed his spectacular Tunnel of Fire display during which he drove his team of five horses through a blazing corridor of fire. A feat never attempted by any other coachman.

They have even appeared in opera, appearing on stage in Carmen at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham. 

John is Vice-President of the British Driving Society and when not driving travels throughout the UK and abroad lecturing and teaching.   He is also a highly entertaining public speaker.  He and his partner Susan Townsend have run Swingletree for over 50 years,  providing opportunities for those interested in learning to drive and ride.

John Parker, Swingletree, Wingfield, Nr. Diss, Norfolk, Great Britain IP21 5QZ
Tel: 01379-384-496

For more information email: john@swingletree.co.uk

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John Parker