Sir William passed away on Sunday March 4th after a period of illness.
Sir William was a former director of his family’s construction company, but his real passion was railways. He built an extensive standard gauge railway in the grounds of his home, using station buildings and artefacts relocated from their original sites. He regularly opened his railway to the general public, allowing the general public to enjoy the collection for themselves – something that gave him great pleasure.
He was a former co-owner of GWR 4073 ‘Pendennis Castle’, and was instrumental in saving the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway from closure in 1972, becoming its Chairman. He also founded the Railway Heritage Trust.
He was perhaps best known for bringing Flying Scotsman back from the United States of America when it became clear that there was a real possibility that the locomotive would never return to the United Kingdom.
Sir William became a Trustee of the Festiniog Railway Trust in 1999, a position he held until 2008. He was an Emeritus Trustee from 2009 to 2011.
Festiniog Railway Company Chairman John Prideaux says:
“We were saddened to hear of the death of our friend and colleague. He has been a great friend and supporter over the years, and he will be greatly missed. I knew Bill well from my days in InterCity, which included special trains, including all steam on the main line. Bill owned Flying Scotsman and was naturally highly interested in everything to do with main line steam running. We became good friends, and Bill accepted our invitation to become a Festiniog Railway Company Trustee. I have fond memories of Bill (with his then new wife Judy) joining us for the Trust meeting in Darjeeling.”
His importance and influence within the railway community in Great Britain should not be underestimated, and we thank him for the unstinting support he gave to the railway preservation movement, and the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways in particular. He was a good friend to us, and will be sorely missed.
We offer our sincere condolences to his wife Judy and the whole family at this difficult time.