Newport Transporter Bridge maintenance man laid to rest after final journey across bridge he called "his second home"

First published in News

ONE of Pill’s “real characters” has been laid to rest after visiting the Newport Transporter Bridge - where he spent much of his working life – for a final time.

Yesterday (MON FEB 24), the funeral procession of Billy Collier carried his body over the iconic structure, where he was the maintenance operative for 27 years.

Mr Collier, who was born and bred in Pill, died on February 13 at the Royal Gwent Hospital after a short illness with pneumonia.

One of the 71-year-old’s three children, Jan, said he thought of the bridge as “his second home”.

“He loved the bridge, absolutely,” she said. “He was always happy and ever the joker. Even when he was in hospital he was trying to make people laugh.”

Mr Collier’s wife, Christine - to whom he was married for 47 years - added: “He was always content, just a lovely man. And we had a lovely marriage, full of happiness and laughter.

“He was the best husband, father and bamp you could ever wish for, and would do anything for his family.

Former bridge superintendent Martin Newman called the grandfather of three “very well known”.

“He was always cracking jokes and that is how he will be remembered,” said the 49-year-old from Ringland.

Mr Newman opened the bridge especially yesterday (MON) to allow the funeral car to pass over it en-route to St Stephen’s Church, Pill.

A minute's silence was held during the gondola crossing, along with a special bell-ringing, while a merchant flag was flown at half mast in homage to Mr Collier’s former role with the Navy.

“It was a special moment,” added Mr Newman, who said he had recently refurbished the brass bell on the pilot house of the gondola and intends to keep it shined remembrance of both Mr Collier and bridge superintendent of 30 years John ‘Sean’ McDermott, who died in 2012.

Comments (4)

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5:28pm Tue 25 Feb 14

askiro says...

Rest in peace bill, lived in Brunei street as a young man and remember you from the bridge and the west . See you on the ice.
Rest in peace bill, lived in Brunei street as a young man and remember you from the bridge and the west . See you on the ice. askiro
  • Score: 5

8:30pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Welsholdgit says...

Some 6 or 7 years ago I had the good fortune me this lovely gentleman Billy. I got intoconversationwith him about the lovely old Bridge and it soon became obvious that he loved it as if it were his own child. Nothing was too much trouble for him, he willingly and happily showed me the workshop and other items of bridge maintainance that was needed to keep her working. He explained how the winding drums worked and how they were made so as not to crush under the pressure of the cable wrapped around them. Billy then took me on a tour of the bridge itself, including the winding house. An experienced I will take to my end. I can only say that I was very honoured to meet this wonderful man and feel a personal loss at history demise, even though I only ever met him this one time. May he rest in peace. He will be aorely missed by many who loved him. With respect Jeff Thomas
Some 6 or 7 years ago I had the good fortune me this lovely gentleman Billy. I got intoconversationwith him about the lovely old Bridge and it soon became obvious that he loved it as if it were his own child. Nothing was too much trouble for him, he willingly and happily showed me the workshop and other items of bridge maintainance that was needed to keep her working. He explained how the winding drums worked and how they were made so as not to crush under the pressure of the cable wrapped around them. Billy then took me on a tour of the bridge itself, including the winding house. An experienced I will take to my end. I can only say that I was very honoured to meet this wonderful man and feel a personal loss at history demise, even though I only ever met him this one time. May he rest in peace. He will be aorely missed by many who loved him. With respect Jeff Thomas Welsholdgit
  • Score: 7

9:15pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Gazo says...

RIP Bill was a pleasure to have known you.
RIP Bill was a pleasure to have known you. Gazo
  • Score: 6

6:24pm Wed 26 Feb 14

kevlec says...

I had the good fortune to work with bill, john & martin, always good times, good memories, so sad to hear of the deaths of bill & john.
Gone but not forgotten.
Rip gentlemen, condolences to both families.
Kevin, ex ncbc electrician.
I had the good fortune to work with bill, john & martin, always good times, good memories, so sad to hear of the deaths of bill & john. Gone but not forgotten. Rip gentlemen, condolences to both families. Kevin, ex ncbc electrician. kevlec
  • Score: 1

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