ONE of the descendants of the man who made fast and comfortable road transport possible dropped in last week to visit his ancestor's namesake who pulls the New Forest Horse drawn Omnibus in Ringwood.

Steve Jones and Mo Hall, who run the service, were honoured by the visit from the great, great, great, great grandson of Obadiah Elliott - the inventor of the elliptical spring.

Jonathan Elliott had read the Journal's story about the omnibus service online - he had googled the name "Obadiah" and it came up with the story, which also mentioned six-year-old Suffolk Punch horse Obadiah who pulls the omnibus through Ringwood's streets.

So he decided to get in touch and rang Mo.

Steve joked: "When Mo said Jonathan was coming I thought she was having a laugh.

"I didn't answer her text for a while as I was really tired."

Mo's text had said: "Well ain't life funny, just had the great great great great grandson of Obadiah Elliott on the phone, he's in Ringwood tomorrow."

Jonathan, an independent financial advisor from Great Bookham in Surrey, told the Journal he had discovered he was related to the famous inventor around 20 years ago.

His grandfather's brother - "Uncle Ralph" - was contacted as he and others in the family were the legal beneficiaries of an estate of a remote family member who had died without leaving a Will. Part of the process which led the tracing agents to identifying the beneficiaries, involved putting together a family tree over many generations, which included Obadiah.

Since then Jonathan and his family have added more flesh to the bones of the family tree going back to Obadiah's grandfather, Thomas Elliott who was born in 1728.

Obadiah himself was born in 1763 and invented the road spring in 1804.

Until the late 1700s most roads were rough and people travelled by horseback and foot between towns as coach travel was virtually impossible.

Nobody invested in the roads and any carriages would have to go at a horse's walking pace and were very bumpy and uncomfortable.

The steel carriage springs, patented by Obadiah Elliott, made the ride much smoother and carriages more stable and safe.

Still used in rear suspensions today, the spring consisted of steel plates piled on top of one another and pinned together.

After this people were more willing to invest in a network of road systems and important constructions such as Thomas Telford's suspension bridge over the Menai Straits were completed.

So important was the invention of the spring that it has two pages dedicated to it in the 1931 book "The Romance of Transport."

Obadiah left five houses, each with ten rooms, in his will, along with two "manufactories" in London full of tools and machinery - part of the firm Elliott and Holbrock in Westminster.

But he married twice and produced a total of 12 children.

Jonathan is a descendant from the first marriage, but admits to having had no association with horses or inventions of any sort!

He was, however, most impressed with the New Forest Omnibus: "I'm impressed with the carriages which Mo and Steve have acquired, and it's important that in these days of rushing around at breakneck speed, that we remember that much of the transport we use today relies in part upon inventions made many years ago - more than 200 years ago in the case of Obadiah and the elliptical spring.

"I'm looking forward to enjoying a ride in the carriages in the near future, and am very impressed that Mo and Steve have remembered my great great great great grandfather by naming one of the horses in his honour."