Bill Gillett

William "Bill" Gillett, BEM was the SVR’s first General Manager in the era of the Severn Valley Railway Society.

Bill Gillett began his railway career as a signal box lad and progressed to become the Chief Operating Inspector of BR Birmingham Division.[1] He was one of very few senior BR managers willing to be seen as openly supportive of a steam preservation scheme in the BR ‘anti-steam pro-modern traction’ era,[2], and was on the footplate of 3205 with drivers Cyril Williams and John Hill when it travelled from Stourbridge to Bridgnorth on 25 March 1967 to become the SVR's first loco.[3] On arrival he was quickly enrolled as a member and suitably refreshed at The Railwayman's Arms.[4]

The workings of the first 'steam gala' on 14 October 1967 were under his direction,[5] and he also accepted personal responsibility for other steam gala weekends and private trains run 'on the nod' in the 1960s.[6]

He was appointed to the position of volunteer SVR General Manager in September 1968 and the following month he spoke on behalf of the SVR at the Public Enquiry into the granting of a Light Railway Order to the Society.[7][8] The report of the Society’s AGM in December 1968 noted that "Mr. W. Gillett, General Manager to the Society, continues as an ex-officio member of the Committee."

Following the formation of the Severn Valley Railway Company, Bill Gillett was appointed Operating Director as well as continuing in the role of General Manager.[9] During 1971, under Sir Gerald Nabarro’s chairmanship, he was succeeded as General Manager by Hugh Mossop, although remaining as Operating Director and assuming the role of 'Superintendent of the Line'.[10] He resigned from both positions in early 1972, his role as Line Superintendent being assumed by Arthur Becker.[11]

Bill Gillett was among the guests at a celebration evening at Castle Hall in Bridgnorth on 5 July 1975 held to mark the 10th anniversary of the Society[12] and at the 21st Anniversary celebrations in 1986.[13] He died on 22 April 1991.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Obituary, SVR News 99
  2. Don Wilcox, SVR News 120
  3. Magner (1997) p. 49.
  4. SVR News 17, “The Early Days of the Severn Valley Part III, A.G. Cleaver
  5. Magner (1997) p. 50
  6. Magner (1997) "Memories of Christopher George", p. 70.
  7. Magner (1997) p. 52.
  8. SVR News 151
  9. SVR News 16
  10. SVR News 21
  11. SVR News 23
  12. Magner (1997) p. 58.
  13. SVR News 81