Honorary Member.... Bill Rich.
Bill Rich has been made an Honorary Member of the Club SCCGB so we thought it a good moment to write of Bill's career and his interest in steam cars.
Bill's involvement with steam started when he was an apprentice in the Royal Navy and eventually became an engine room artificer based in Chatham. He then went to sea in HMS Delight. The ship had two boiler rooms and two engines so Bill had a steep learning curve to cope with. His next ship was the cruiser HMS Gambia on which Bill did 18 months in the Middle East, with of course no air conditioning in 1958. His last ship was HMS Cassandra, a destroyer bound for the Far East, by this time Bill decided that the Royal Navy could manage without him and left the service.
His first job in civvy street was as a shift engineer working for the CEGB. This career lasted about 20 months. Bill's next venture was to buy, with a friend, a garage in Brockenhurst, Hampshire. Many vintage cars passed through their hands (if only he had kept a few). A brief racing career was with a car called "Nanette" which had been raced at Brooklands. A local gentleman by the name of Cdr Mike Bush owned a 20hp Stanley which he brought into the garage now and then. So when Bill had a drive in the Stanley he vowed he would one day have one. Bill and his partner sold the garage in 1964, the year of Bill's marriage to Rachel. They lived in Southampton and Bill started working as a Marine Superintendent with a local dredging company. While at this company he met a marine survey consultant and struck up a friendly relationship, resulting in Bill joining the consultancy in 1967 and working as an independent consultant until he retired.
He finally realised his dream of owning a Stanley in 1987, that very original 726 in which he has done all the SCCGB Tours. Joining the Steam Car Club of GB in those early days, Bill's enthusiasm, steam background and sociable nature made him quite naturally a prominent and very active member and to his election as Chairman in 2000. He has often taken on roles which have promoted steam cars to the public, whether it be appearing in "Scrapyard Challenge", commentating on our cars at Prescott or being one of the prime movers at the start of the successful British Steam Land Speed Record project. By taking part in the Brighton Run, usually with Rachel and driving Charles Burnett's CX , doing a commemoration of the 1903 Bordeaux Paris race, displaying his 726 on the Beaulieu Museum stand at the Paris Retromobile and twice at Techno-Classica Essen exhibition Bill has helped put the SCCGB to the forefront of the hobby in Europe.
As Chairman, Bill was in office at a time of great difficulty and friction within the Club over many months, a very stressful period for Bill and other officers of the Club which ultimately lead to the departure of a number of members and a reorganisation of the Club. Bill suffered an aneurism at this time and felt that he could no longer lead the Club as he thought it deserved and so retired from office. His appointment as Honorary Member has been made in recognition of the great contribution Bill made to the Club over its 23 year life.
On a personal level Bill is a great chap to have around, both socially (and many of us recall his appearance with ginger wig, Tam o' Shanter hat and kilt at a party in a rented Scottish castle during the 2001 Tour) and when some ghastly mechanical problem crops up he is always ready to get oily. In his other life - away from cars, Bill has been a trustee for his local church and is a regular in the choir, plays bridge and has a very wide circle of friends outside of our hobby.