BBC 'star' Bill Chedham dies aged 84

By IH Tuesday 30 October 2012 Updated: 05/11 10:01

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Buy photos » Bill Chedham in Chedham's Yard. Picture by Neville Collins.

BILL Chedham, who became a national figure during the BBC TV series Restoration Village, passed away peacefully at his home in Wellesbourne on Friday October 26.

The 84-year-old was the sixth and last generation of blacksmiths and wheelwrights who had worked at the family's yard in the village's Church Walk since the early 19th century.

Their work was mainly for local farms, building and repairing carts and other machinery. They never had electricity and the River Dene flowing alongside the yard was the only water supply.

Young Bill learned many skills including those of a wheelwright, blacksmith, agricultural engineer and thatcher.

For many years the family operated a threshing machine on local farms but when this ended and unable to find sufficient work, the yard closed in 1965. Bill then worked for various local farmers specialising in building and vehicle repairs, but he's perhaps best remembered for his ability to modify standard vehicles for more specialised uses. He retired in 1993.

In 2002 Wellesbourne Parish Council purchased Chedham’s Yard from Bill with a view to preserving it for future generations and this became financially possible when the yard won the £1 million prize in the last series of the Restoration Village in 2006.

Planning the restoration works took another five years, and Bill took a keen interest in the project including helping restore the thousands of artefacts found at the yard. Despite suffering ill-health in the last few months, Bill was the star turn at the formal opening of the yard in June this year and was delighted to see his beloved yard being enjoyed by many visitors each Saturday in the summer.

Bill was a superb wood carver and keen gardener and was the anchor man for the highly successful Wellesbourne tug of war team as well as being a tireless worker for St Peter’s Church in the village.

A quiet gentle man, Bill never married and is survived by his sister Betty in Cornwall.

Born in Warwick, Bill lived in Wellesbourne all his life, apart from a year serving in Palestine during his National Service. He was a familiar figure riding his bicycle around the village. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by his many friends.

Visit the website at www.chedhamsyard.org.uk for further details on Chedham's Yard.

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