I am very sad to report the passing of one of our Trust’s earliest members, who passed away in the early hours of 8 November 2022, aged 84.
One of the Duke’s earliest members, William John Kinchin (always known as John) became aware of “The Impossible Dream” in the mid-1970s when it arrived in Loughborough from Barry Scrapyard. Through his employment in the engineering department at the General Electric Company in Leicester, he worked on many components during the initial restoration in the 1980s. In fact, during this time a number of smaller components were stolen from inside a room where only he and two other managers had a key; the thief was never found. Without his dedication and use of GEC facilities, the dream would have taken a lot longer to come true.
When the Duke was launched after restoration by HRH The Duke of Gloucester at Rothley (GCR) in May 1986, he went along and found that he knew the footplate crew well, and they started talking. Oblivious to the activity around them as the renaming ceremony was prepared for, they were finally interrupted when things were about to begin. The crowd, by this point, was so dense that he had no choice but to stand in the front row alongside all the dignitaries, including Robert Riddles, with whom he maintained a close friendship for many years.
The Duke has also been a family affair for John’s relatives; he got his daughters involved in the very early stages, with both remembering scraping rust off the Duke’s wheels as children! His enthusiasm got his grandson, Richard, interested in the locomotive, who joined the Trust a few years ago. Just before his admission to the hospital in late September, he was getting together lots of Duke paraphernalia to pass on tho his grandson, including early newsletters and prints of early paintings done to raise funds for the project. He was also the proud owner of one of Hornby’s OO gauge Dukes, but not just any model; it was certified as number 2 from the production line!
He sadly passed away, aged 84, at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester in the early hours of 8th November 2022 from lung disease. John and Richard had planned to travel behind the Duke together on her first loaded test run from Tyseley, but he will now certainly join the whole Duke family in spirit instead. He was always very proud to play a role in the resurrection of this iconic locomotive. He last rode behind her on a tour from Leicester to somewhere in the north, in the Support Coach, and I remember waving him off as the Duke powered out of the station.
I’m sure many members will remember him, and he will be sorely missed by everyone. He joins his late wife, who passed away in 2020, and leaves behind two daughters and five grandsons. The funeral was held at St Peter’s, Whetstone, Leicester. Richard suggested, “if members would like to donate to the Duke Trust in his memory to help 71000 steam again I’m sure it will be greatly appreciated.”
Rest in Peace, John