Sir William McAlpine, 6th Baronet

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Sir William Hepburn McAlpine

Sir William McAlpine.jpg
Born(1936-01-12)12 January 1936
Died4 March 2018(2018-03-04) (aged 82)
Jill Benton Jones
(m. 1959; died 2004)
Lady Judith McAlpine
(m. 2004)

Sir William Hepburn McAlpine, 6th Baronet, FRSE (12 January 1936 – 4 March 2018) was a British businessman who was director of the construction company Sir Robert McAlpine.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in London in 1936 at the family-owned Dorchester Hotel,[2] McAlpine was the oldest son of Sir Edwin McAlpine, 5th Bt (who was given a life peerage as Lord McAlpine of Moffat in 1980) by his marriage to Ella Mary Gardner Garnett.[2] His great-grandfather was "Concrete Bob", Sir Robert McAlpine, the first of the McAlpine baronets and the founder of the construction company. He had two younger brothers Alistair McAlpine, Baron McAlpine of West Green and David McAlpine.

Brought up at the family home in Surrey and educated at Charterhouse,[2] McAlpine joined the family firm from school, starting his career at the Hayes Depot in Middlesex, a 30-acre (120,000 m2) site which housed the McAlpine railway locomotive and wagon fleet. The years after the Second World War were a busy time for the construction industry.

He served in the Life Guards for two years from 1954.[3]

In 1973, McAlpine purchased the historic British LNER Class A3 4472 Flying Scotsman steam locomotive, saving it from possible demise and repatriating it from the United States two years after a U.S. tour which had bankrupted its previous owner, Alan Pegler. Sir William maintained and ran the locomotive as a service to the British public and international steam community until the mid-1990s, when it was purchased by steam enthusiast Tony Marchington.

In 1990, on the death of his father, McAlpine inherited his baronetcy and became Sir William. He was patron of the Clan MacAlpine Society.[4] He served as High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire for 1999. He was a director and trustee of the educational charity Shiplake Court Limited.

In 2007 McAlpine was president of the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers to which he had been elected a member in 1985.

He was also the president of the Railway Benevolent Institution, known as the Railway Benefit Fund, a charity helping current and retired railway industry workers.

Fawley Hill Railway[edit]

A 1913 Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0 ST steam locomotive on the Fawley Hill Railway. It was delivered to Sir Robert McAlpine and used on a series of major projects including Wembley Stadium.

An acknowledged railway enthusiast, McAlpine returned to Hayes depot during the Beeching Axe to find that the company's Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0ST No.31 was for sale for £100. He purchased the locomotive, and moved it to his country estate home at Fawley, Buckinghamshire.[5] This marked the start in 1961 of the 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge Fawley Hill Railway, a private railway which now runs to over a mile long, combining the steepest gradient at 1:13 on a British railway, and includes:[6]

In addition, the perimeter of the railway line is adorned with several prominent architectural features which McAlpine acquired – although these were received mostly as donations; these include the original Wembley Stadium Twin Towers flagpoles, some early cast-iron bridge parapets, and several arched structures from prominent London locations.

Entrance to Fawley Hill Railway is by invitation only on select days, usually during the summer period. McAlpine's extensive private railway museum is maintained by volunteers.

Other railways[edit]

Sir William McAlpine nameplate on 60008 at Toton TMD

After starting Fawley Hill Railway, McAlpine purchased 4079 Pendennis Castle in partnership with John Gretton, which was subsequently housed at Market Overton in Rutland.[2] After being moved to the Steamtown, it was sold to Rio Tinto and moved to Australia. In January 1973 McAlpine purchased 4472 Flying Scotsman after a financially disastrous tour of North America, to save it from sale to an American consortium.[2]

McAlpine became involved in a plan to save the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway (RH&DR) and became its chairman. After the efforts of Dr Peter Beet to preserve Carnforth LMS 10(A) shed, McAlpine bought shares in 1970, and then took the controlling interest from 1974 until 1987 in the visitor attraction that became Steamtown. McAlpine chaired the RH&DR, the Dart Valley Railway, and established and chaired the Railway Heritage Trust.[2]

McAlpine was also a Patron of the Swanage Railway Trust, as well as President of the Transport Trust, the charity dedicated to the preservation of all modes of transport and its infrastructure.

Three locomotives have been named Sir William McAlpine; Ruston 48 No.294266, once owned by Sir William himself, EWS' 60008 and DB Cargo UK's 90028.[7][8]

Personal life[edit]

McAlpine's first wife Jill Benton Jones, whom he married on 31 October 1959, died on 9 February 2004.[1] They had two children:

He married his second wife, Judith, whom he had known for many years, on 25 March 2004 at the restored station on his private railway.

He died after months of illness on 4 March 2018 and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his only son.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Jill Benton Jones".
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Sir William McAlpine talks to Andy Milne". Railway people. 20 June 2006.
  3. ^ "McAlpine, Hon. Sir William (Hepburn)". Who's Who online. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.25271. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)(subscription may be required or content may be available in libraries)
  4. ^ Official Homepage of the Worldwide Organization for MacAlpines
  5. ^ "Fawley". Hampton Court MRS. Archived from the original on 19 June 2013.
  6. ^ "Fawley Museum Railway". Archived from the original on 25 September 2011.
  7. ^ "Flying Scotsman in York as locomotive named after Sir William McAlpine". York Press. 11 January 2019.
  8. ^ Naming Honours Sir Bill Rail Express issue 274 March 2019 page 15
  9. ^ "Saviour of Flying Scotsman dies". Henley Standard. 5 March 2018. Retrieved 5 March 2018.

External links[edit]

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Baronet
(of Knott Park)
Succeeded by
Andrew William McAlpine