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James William "Jimi" Heselden[2][3] OBE (27 March 1948 – 26 September 2010)[4][5] was a British entrepreneur. A former coal miner, Heselden became wealthy by manufacturing the Hesco bastion barrier system. In 2010, he bought Segway Inc., maker of the Segway personal transport system.[6] Heselden died in 2010 from injuries apparently sustained falling from a cliff while riding his own product. His estate, bequeathed to his widow and family, was worth over £340 million and he was ranked in the top 400 members of the Sunday Times Rich List.[6][1]

Jimi Heselden

James William Heselden

(1948-03-27)27 March 1948
Halton Moor, Leeds,
United Kingdom
Died26 September 2010(2010-09-26) (aged 62)
Cause of deathAccidental fall off a cliff while riding a segway
ResidenceLeeds, England
Years activec.1985-2010
Known forChairman of Hesco Bastion Ltd
Net worth£340m [1]
AwardsOfficer of the Order of the British Empire
Soldiers assembling HESCO bastions.

Early lifeEdit

Heselden grew up in the Halton Moor district of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.[6] At the age of 15, Heselden left Osmondthorpe Secondary Modern School to work as a labourer and then at collieries in Temple Newsam and Lofthouse.[5][6] He lost his job in the wave of redundancies that followed the 1984–85 miners' strike and spent his redundancy money on renting a workshop and, at first, setting up a sandblasting business.[5] He then worked on developing and patenting a collapsible wire mesh and fabric container, now called Hesco bastion, to be used for building flood management and to limit erosion.


In 1989, Heselden founded Hesco Bastion Ltd to manufacture containers of the same name;[7] filled with sand or earth, they quickly found favour with the armies of several countries, as they allowed effective blast walls, barriers and revetments to be quickly constructed. Made in Hesco's factory in Leeds, these were shipped (flat-packed) in great numbers to conflict zones, including Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan,[6] as well as later being used for flood defences at New Orleans.[5] He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours, "for services to the Defence industry and to Charity."[7][8]


In 2008, Heselden donated £1.5 million to the Help For Heroes fund through a charity auction bid for nine people to fly with the Red Arrows[6][9] and, in the same year, set up the Hesco Bastion Fund in his home city with a £10 million donation to the Leeds Community Foundation. A further £3 million was added to the foundation in 2009 and an additional £10 million in 2010.[6]


At 11:40 a.m. on 26 September 2010, West Yorkshire Police received reports of a man falling 80 feet (24 m)[6] or 42 feet (13 m)[10] into the River Wharfe, at the village of Thorp Arch near Boston Spa, apparently having fallen from the cliffs above.[6] The fall from a narrow footpath was witnessed by a man walking his dog nearby.[10] A Segway vehicle was recovered and Heselden was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.[6] Investigators said, "At this time we do not believe the death to be suspicious" and were investigating as to "whether there was a fault with his particular machine or it was driver error".[6]

On 4 October 2010, at an inquest at Leeds Coroner's Court, coroner David Hinchliff reported that a post-mortem examination had concluded that Heselden had suffered "multiple blunt force injuries of the chest and spine consistent with a fall whilst riding a gyrobike".[11]

Recording a verdict of accidental death, West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchliff told Heselden's family: "I think it's probable — I think typical of Jimi and the type of man he was — he held back and waited as an act of courtesy to allow Mr Christie (a dog walker) more room. In so doing, he's attempted to reverse the Segway back. As a result of that he's got into difficulty."[10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "BBC News: Segway boss leaves £340m to his wife and family". 19 August 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  2. ^ Jimi Heselden: Miner who used his redundancy money to become a businessman and philanthropist, The Independent Obituary, 2 October 2010.
  3. ^ "Appeal: Death of James Heselden". West Yorkshire Police. 28 September 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Segway boss Jimi Heselden dies in scooter cliff fall". BBC. 27 September 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d Wainwright, Martin (30 September 2010). "Jimi Heselden obituary". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Brooke, Chris (28 September 2010). "Millionaire Segway tycoon dies in cliff plunge on one of his own scooters". Mail Online. London. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  7. ^ a b Fortson, Danny; Beresford, Philip (21 December 2008). "Ex-miner blasts salary to £25m". The Sunday Times.
  8. ^ "No. 58014". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2006. p. 11.
  9. ^ a b Freeman, Sarah (18 September 2010). "The man who gave £23m of his fortune to charity". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  10. ^ a b c "Segway tycoon fell from a cliff to his death on one of his own scooters as he 'let dog walker pass". London: Associated Newspapers Ltd. 15 July 2011.
  11. ^ "Inquest into Segway head's death". 4 October 2010 – via

External linksEdit