Bill Hedges, who has died in Chatham aged 68, first became involved with Kingswear Castle when she was returned to service in 1985. For the following twenty seven years he helped out from time to time with some refit work as well as sailing as occasional relief chief engineer. He had many skills and when we restored the landing platforms either side of the wheelhouse in 1986 it was Bill who fabricated from scratch and fitted the handrails around them
Born and brought up in Portland, Bill's first experience of a steam ship was being taken out as a boy on the RMAS tug Sea Giant which was often engaged on target towing and berthing duties at the naval base. This gave him a life long love of steam.
For many years Bill was in business as W M G Hedges & Sons refurbishing locomotive boilers and when that was taken over by Chatham Steam he remained with the firm for some years continuing to practice his considerable boiler making skills.
Bill refurbished the steam engine Ajax for use at the Historic Dockyard Chatham and in subsequent years could often be seen on her footplate shunting trucks around the dockyard.
Bill was a lovely guy. He made a great contribution to steam preservation. He and his infectious chuckle will be greatly missed.
His funeral will be at Bobbing (near Sittingbourne) Crematorium at 11am on Friday 8th February followed by a wake in the loco shed at the Historic Dockyard Chatham at 12.30pm