A Tribute to Bill Gwilliam MBE

A Tribute to Bill Gwilliam, MBE

Bill Gwilliam was one of Worcester's best known historians, who sadly died on September 27th 2002, aged 90.

Worcester people will know Bill not only for his brilliant life time achievement but as a Printer, Engineer and University Lecturer, a school teacher at Christopher Whitehead Boy's and following that at Nunnery Wood Secondary School.

In 1998 Bill was awarded the MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his remarkable work, which was obviously the proudest moment of his life.

Over 50 years ago Bill became interested in Industrial Archaeology which led him to the wider aspects of local history. In 1971 the Worcestershire Industrial Archaeology & Local History Society (WIALHS) was founded, Bill was President and one of the founder members.

He has broadcast both on radio and television.

Bill was born and bred in Worcester and was married to Kathleen who died several years ago. He leaves two sons, David and Bob, and their families.

Two books of Bill's work have been published:

  • Old Worcester People and Places ( ISBN 0-95113525-8-X )
  • Worcestershire's Hidden Past ( ISBN 0-951135525-5-5 )

Bill is to History what Elgar was to Music, on the announcement of his death I received messages of condolence from all round the world from people who knew of Bill's work.

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