ONE of the founding members of the South Tyne Traction Engine Society has died.

Billy Treloar was known across the country for his knowledge of all things steam – from Boer War engines to steam boats.

Billy’s family hailed from Cornwall, but his grandfather Amos moved north to manage the mines at Nenthead, which prospered under his leadership.

His son, Amos, married into the Robson family, who had Station Garage in Haltwhistle, and Billy was born in Renwick in 1945.

Billy moved around the area before settling in Haltwhistle in 1962. His coal yard on the outskirts of the town was home to his eclectic mix of steam engines and vintage vehicles.

For a time, Billy was the owner of the last British military engine of the Boer War, a 19th century Fowler three-speed road locomotive that he spent five years restoring.

Billy, along with his father and twin brother (both named Amos) also bought Kaiser Wilhelm II’s luxury yacht, the Schaarhorn, now on display in Hamburg.

In 1977, he was one of the founding members of the South Tyne Traction Engine Society, along with a group of like-minded enthusiasts to celebrate the history of steam-powered transport.

The society holds a show at Corbridge’s Tynedale Park each year. Helen Watson, a former secretary of the society, paid tribute to Billy.

She said: “He was an absolutely wonderful man with a good sense of humour. He was a small bloke but, by heck, he was a big person.

“Billy was very unassuming but he was very generous. I don’t know where he found all his time.

“He was irreplaceable, an absolute one off. He will be a huge miss. He knew so much information about different steam engines. His knowledge was just immense.

“He was a friend too. He knew everybody everywhere. Nobody can do him justice.”

Billy, who died at the weekend after battling leukaemia, also served on Haltwhistle Town Council for a single term. At Monday’s meeting of the town council, chairman Coun. Alan Sharp also paid tribute to Billy.

He said: “Billy did so much to help Haltwhistle. He was heavily involved in the carnival. He wanted to help with the flood defence group and put the bridge across the burn to his yard to do so. He wanted to do things for the town and not charge. I was so sad to hear of his passing.”