Noble, Dudley Henry 1893

(b. 1893), motoring PR pioneer

Dudley Henry Noble, born in 1893, fascinated by the emerging world of motorcars, took his first job with the Rover Company in 1910 testing motor cycles. During the First World War he joined the Army Service Corps, Mechanical Transport and was made a workshops officer. After that he was on the editorial staffs of various motoring publications but re-joined the Rover Company in 1923 to take charge of advertising and publicity. It did not take long for Noble to achieve a PR blast without precedent. In the 1920s, the Calais-Mediterranean Express, which linked the upper coast of France to the Riviera, was one of Europe's prestigious crack passenger trains. Noble already had some familiarity with French railways since he rode them while covering trials for Temple Press.

By 1930, Rover was producing automobiles and was about to unveil a new one, the Light Six. Rover's directors asked Noble for some ideas on publicizing it. He immediately suggested a race between a Light Six and the express, known as the Blue Train for the colour of its cars, along its 750-mile run. It took three tries, but the Rover, with Noble as its lead driver, eventually scored a victory over the train later in 1930, a feat that ended up on page one of the mass-circulation Daily Express. In 1930 he was invited by the Rootes Brothers to become their publicity adviser and in this capacity made several research trips on behalf of British cars into more or less unknown country, such as the Libyan and Sahara Deserts.

He went into business on his own account shortly before the Second World War. He founded the 'Automotive Press Digest' in 1945 and 'Milestones' a quarterly magazine, the following year.