THE Great Central Railway has paid tribute to its former managing director Bill Ford, who died at the age of 81 on Sunday, September 2, after losing a long battle against illness.
Under the banner headline of ‘Leader and legend 1937-2018,’ the GCR’s website and Rail Mail bulletin said: “The very sad news of Bill Ford’s passing on Sunday has no doubt already reached so many of our friends and supporters.
“Bill was instrumental in the railway’s development from the earliest days of preservation. His involvement began in 1975, culminating the following year in the formation of Great Central Railway plc to buy the track – otherwise British Railways were adamant that it be lifted at the start of the following week.
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“Bill’s financial support, business acumen and personal reputation at that time were crucial in the survival of the embryonic preservation scheme.
“In later years of course, Bill took to active management of the railway, after returning in 2003 following the death of David Clarke, our benefactor for the previous quarter-century.
“Especially in the first few years after 2003, the railway was in a ‘delicate’ state to say the least and the fact that GCR is now in the premier league of heritage railways is testimony to Bill’s incredible energy and leadership.
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