John Hill was a long-serving volunteer on the SVRSevern Valley Railway. He was Chairman of the Severn Valley Railway Association between 1973 and 1976 and was also a Director of the Guarantee Company and SVR(H). He died on 14 January 2021 following a long period of ill health.
John Hill was a BRBritish Rail or British Railways driver, based at Saltley and Tyseley during his career. With steam ended on the main line, he heard of the newly-formed Severn Valley Railway preservation society and became a member in 1966. He was on the footplate of 3205 when it arrived on at Bridgnorth from Stourbridge on 25 March 1967 and was the first person to drive an engine of the SVRSevern Valley Railway in preservation. The events around that time were later featured in the 2012 TV mini-series "The Golden Age of Steam Railways", for which John Hill is credited on the Internet Movie Database.
John drove 3205 for the BRBritish Rail or British Railways ‘Inspection Special’ on 31 March 1968, as well as other ‘specials’ in the 1960s. He also drove 3205 at the head of the first public train on opening day, 23 May 1970.
John appeared in Carrie's War, filmed on the footplate of 5764 on 5 November 1973 with the late Jim Bodfish. He also drove Holmes' train throughout the filming of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution in 1975, appearing in the film's credits in the role of 'Train engineer'.
His invaluable footplate experience was passed on to those volunteers wishing to become firemen/drivers and assisted in establishing Bridgnorth MPD. John also passed out as a signalman.
Directorships and other
John was elected Chairman of the SVRASevern Valley Railway Association in succession to John Garth at the AGM on 17 November 1973. One of his first duties was to organise a collection for a wreath for the late Sir Gerald Nabarro.
During his time as SVRASevern Valley Railway Association Chairman, the SVRSevern Valley Railway extended services to Bewdley in 1974, resulting in a greater pressure of work on the already hard-pressed volunteer labour force which the SVRASevern Valley Railway Association represented. He was succeeded as Chairman of the SVRASevern Valley Railway Association by Ron Gardner during 1976.
By spring 1975 John was a Director of the Guarantee Company and also on the Board of SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) as one of that company’s nominees.
In 1977 he took on the volunteer role of Operating Superintendent, and undertook a review and reorganisation of the structure of the Operating Department. In 1978 he headed a committee to draw up a formal Health and Safety policy. In Spring 1979 he announced he would be stepping down as Operating Superintendent but was prevailed upon to continue until summer 1980. Shortly afterwards he resigned from the company Boards due to pressure of non-SVRSevern Valley Railway matters, but remained an active volunteer until at least 2017.
- Express and Star interview, Published: 24 March 2017
- John Hill on IMDb
- Magner (1997) p. 51.
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 17
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 31
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 38
- Internet Movie Database
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 30
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 34
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 35, SVRASevern Valley Railway Association Chairman’s report
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 40
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 36
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 45,46
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 50
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 51,52, 56
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 59
- BranchLines, April 2017
- BBC iPlayer 2 minute extract from The Golden Age of Steam Railways featuring 3205 and John Hill