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A Tribute to Bill Gwilliam MBE

A Tribute to Bill Gwilliam, MBE

Railways Articles

The Effect on Road Coaches

The Effect on Road Coaches

The effect of the railways on road coaches in the Birmingham area fluctuated from boom to disaster. Until 1835, six coaches set out daily in each direction to and from Birmingham and Worcester, but when the London & Birmingham Railway opened, the traffic trebled because it was cheaper, quicker, and much more comfortable to get to London by coach to Birmingham


The Railway Insitute at Shrub Hill

The Railway Insitute at Shrub Hill

The directors of the West Midland Railway took a deep interest in the wefare of the workmen. A remarkable organisation, in the nature of a friendly society provided for sickness, fetes and excursions for families and friends. A Railway Institute was housed in the large rooms beneath the driveway to Shrub Hill Station, which later degenerated into storerooms.


Shrub Hill Station

Shrub Hill Station

 There used to be an orchard where Shrub Hill Station stands today and the Engine  Cleaning Sheds occupied the site of an old farm house close by. The Railway opened for traffic in 1852. The Company Directors travelled from Oxford to Wolverhampton and dined at an hotel there. 


The Railway Line That Failed To Get There

The Railway Line That Failed To Get There

The engineers of the Worcester and Hereford Railway originally planned a branch line that was to connect Diglis Docks to the main line at Foregate Street, called the 'Butts Spur Line'. The hope was that big ships would come  up the Severn to Diglis and there the goods would be transhipped to rail.  


Temporary Station at Midland Road

Temporary Station at Midland Road

For five years, until 1859, Worcester passengers had to use a horse bus to catch the train at Spetchley, 'a huddling of 15 persons in a lumbering conveyance for an hour's tedious jolting', and when at least the O.W & W was empowered by the Select Committee  to build a branch line to Abbots Wood, ( before other O.W. & W  lines were open)

Suggested Station at Bath Road & Edgar Tower eDGARE

Suggested Station at Bath Road & Edgar Tower eDGARE

The City Council and Chamber of Commerce called for a line from Abbots Wood to the vicinity of Castle Hill (near Edgar Tower)

The Birmingham & Gloucester Company

The Birmingham & Gloucester Company

The logical route from Birmingham to Bristol would have been through Worcester


The Grand Connection Railway

The Grand Connection Railway

 The Grand Connection Railway was originally to run from Gloucester west of the Severn


Gravitation Railways

Gravitation Railways

Gravitation Railways or 'Incline Planes'

The Railway in Worcester

The Railway in Worcester

The railway arrived late at the County town, but this was not due to the opposition or indifference of the citizens as happened at other places. From the earliest days of railways, the manufactures and the Corporation let it be known that they wanted Worcester

Michael Grundy writes:

No-one has done more in a lifetime than H.W ("Bill") Gwilliam to chronicle the history of the City of Worcester and County of Worcestershire. Importantly too, his prolific writings on the Faithful City's past have always been in a most readable, fascinating and absorbing form, full of colour and with a liberal sprinkling of humour.

After retiring from a distinguished career in teaching, Bill researched and compiled volume after typewritten volume on the history of the city and county of Worcester, covering a myriad of subjects such as folklore, pubs, crimes, newspapers, transport. rivers and, above all, "People and Places."

Eighteen years ago, when I began producing weekly features on local history for the Worcester Evening News, I received invaluable help from Bill, and I am sure many other local history researchers down the decades will have had cause to be equally grateful for his ready assistance.

Bill has always shown abounding enthusiasm for the extremely eventful and chequered past of Worcester and the county and has been a veritable font of knowledge on his painstakingly researched subject.

Little wonder that the Queen bestowed the MBE on him for services to the public. I know that the Buckingham Palace Investiture where he received the medal from Her Majesty was probably the most memorable day of his life.

Happily, Bill's vast writings are not being allowed to languish in numerous file folders on shelves around a bedroom at his Worcester home.

Two books of his work have already been published - "Old Worcester: People and Places" and "Worcestershire's Hidden Past" and are available in bookshops, having been produced by Halfshire Books.

I understand too that the Worcestershire Record Office has copied several of his volumes for the county archives, and I heartily applaud Pam Hinks for now so patiently making Bill's researches available to an even wider audience via the Internet.

Mike Grundy, Worcestershire Evening News