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William ‘Bill’ Turnbull 1939 – 2019

We have received the sad news that Bill Turnbull, former service and technical manager for Coles Cranes and Grove Europe, has died following a long battle with cancer. He was 80 this year.

Turnbull was born in Hollycarrside on the south side of Sunderland, next to the Ryhope Colliery, where his father was a senior draughtsman. On leaving school he enrolled in an apprenticeship as a colliery mechanic, a job he loved. On completing his apprenticeship the National Coal Board enrolled him in a three year engineering course at Sunderland College, at the same time he married his wife Margaret.

On graduating with a Colliery Engineer’s Certificate he was appointed as assistant colliery engineer at Westoe Colliery in South Shields.
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Bill Turnbull(L) at his retirement party in 1999 with Bill Green

Wishing to become of chartered engineer he later took a job as draughtsman at Distington Engineering Company in Workington in order to gain the required design experience. In 1966, the Labour government instigated a national pay freeze, which prompted him to apply for a better paid job at Coles Cranes in Sunderland, where he was appointed as a technical service engineer. He worked his way up to become technical service manager to which the company later added the role of UK service manager. In 1985, the company was acquired by Grove and Turnbull became involved with overseas issues and responsibilities. He retired in 1999 after 33 years in the crane and aerial lift business.
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A more recent photograph

He once said of his career: “I am truly fortunate to have had jobs which I have really enjoyed, and which have taken me to many countries around the world”. He was pre-deceased by his wife of 49 years, but is survived by son Peter, daughter Christine and two grandsons.

As soon as we learn of the funeral arrangements we will add them to this article.

The funeral will be held at 10:45 on Thursday 16th January at:
New Silksworth Methodist Church
North Street
New Silksworth
Tyne and Wear

The crematorium is booked for midday, returning to the church for the wake.


Bill G
Rest in peace Bill.

Dec 29, 2019