John Charles Gillham

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John Charles Gillham was a draughtsman, initially for the London Passenger Transport Board, and later Pandrol, who, as a hobby, drew maps of transport systems. He produced all of the maps and much of the text in "Great British Tramway Networks" published by the Light Railway Transport League in 1940, with revised editions in 1944 and 1957.

Somewhere, in time, Allan Garraway had contact with him, and asked him to produce a map for the FR. The result, his reference No. 220, appeared in Harbour shop around mid 1957. It is believed there were a couple of reprints/updates of the JCG version (one is dated Feb '57, amended to '58) before Michael Seymour produced an extended version.

An obituary appeared in the Permanent Way Institution journal in 2009

John Gillham Honorary Life Member

It is with regret and sadness that we record the death of a well-known and highly regarded member of the London section of the Permanent Way Institution, John Charles Gillham. He died peacefully in his sleep on March 22nd 2009. The PWI was represented at his farewell service, at the South West Middlesex Crematorium, by London section committee member Peter Coysten and by Henry Pryor from the Northampton and Watford section.

John Gillham was born on July 5th 1917 in Ealing and at the age of ten moved with his parents into a newly built house in nearby Gunnersbury Park where he lived until his death. After passing his school matriculation examination John spent a year in the sixth form and a short time as a solicitor's clerk before commencing a seven year apprenticeship with the then recently established London Passenger Transport Board at their Chiswick Works where he ultimately became a draughtsman. In due course he joined Pandrol Limited and remained with them for the rest of his working life. He was the company's chief draughtsman at the time of his retirement.

John was elected to membership of the PWI on March 16th 1970 and from then until only a very short while before his death he was a most active participant in all of the London section's activities. He also attended the majority of the Institution's national events and made many trips overseas with the PWI. With advancing years, John had been forced to limit himself to London section meetings but he continued to attend monthly with great regularity and was a frequent contributor to the discussions. John was presented with honorary life membership of the PWI by the Institution's then president Richard Spoors on April 12th 2006. He was a very worthy recipient of this accolade.

Always an advocate for, and user of, public transport, John travelled widely both in the British Isles and overseas. Whenever and wherever he went, from the earliest touring holidays of his childhood to a circuit of India by train, John produced meticulously prepared routes of his travels. By combining his skill as a draughtsman with a natural ability to quickly orientate himself in any city that he visited he producing over five hundred dyeline maps of train, tram and trolleybus systems in Europe and other parts of the world.

JCG (as he liked to be known) had always wanted to become a transport journalist and his interest in transport covered all disciplines from trains and trams to buses, trolleybuses and canals. John wrote a number of books. His first, Great British Tramway Networks, which he wrote in conjunction with Wingate H Bett, was first published in 1940 and has been revised and reprinted several times since. This was followed by a number of other works on transport history but the book by which he will principally be remembered is London Transport's Double Deck Buses which first appeared in 1950.

John was a member of many learned societies, all principally associated with transport or engineering, and he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of many aspects of railways, their operation, construction, and maintenance. He was always prepared to share his knowledge with any enquirer. His photographic library was a priceless treasure trove of much useful and relevant information and was an often used source of data for book publishers and for the PWI and other institutions.

John was a sprightly man with a sharp mind and those who knew him will recall his ready, charming wit and humour, his courtesy and his generosity of time to all who sought after his knowledge. He was a true gentleman to everyone and will be greatly missed by the London section of the PWI and by all who have an interest in transport matters. In celebration of his long and full life it seemed wholly appropriate that the recessional music at John's farewell was A Transport Of Delight by Flanders and Swan.

Taken from issue 127/3 of the Journal of the Permanent Way Institution, and reprinted here, by permission of its Editor, Martin Fairbrother.

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