After the silver plane touched down, a familiar figure alighted from the aircraft. Wearing his trademark dicky-bow and homburg hat, there was no mistaking the familiar figure of Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill.
“My mother just pushed me out to the front, and I remember Churchill coming up to me, and I gave him the cigar,” he recalls. “He took the cigar from me and said ‘Thank you very much m’boy’.”
Our recent story about Winston Churchill’s visit to Wolverhampton in 1949 brought memories flooding back for Bill, 76, who now lives in Worfield, near Bridgnorth.
Last week we told the story of how Gavin Hill’s late father Richard met Churchill on his arrival at Pendeford aerodrome in 1949, ahead of him delivering an address to a crowd of more than 20,000 supporters at Wolverhampton’s Molineux stadium.
The picture showed Richard and another boy handing the former – and future – prime minister a cigar. And Bill immediately recognised himself as the other boy.
Bill, who was four years old at the time, says he has no idea where the idea of giving Churchill a cigar came from. “I just assume it’s what people did, because he liked smoking cigars,” he says.
Bill says his father, William Povey Snr, was a keen member of the flying club which met at Pendeford. and believes that was why he was there to greet Churchill that day. A well-known businessman in the town, Mr Povey owned the W & W Povey bakery chain.
“We had a bakery in Newhampton Road West and seven shops and a restaurant,” he says. “The main shop was in Victoria Street, opposite Starts the stationers, and we also owned the Regent restaurant above the shop.”
His mother Norah Bedford Williams was part of the Bedford Williams family that owned Bedford Williams department store in Victoria Street, later moving to the Mander Centre.
In addition to the picture that Gavin provided, Bill also has a picture of the occasion that he obtained himself, taken from a different angle, showing his DeHavilland Dove aircraft in the background.
Churchill was leader of the oppposition when he visited Wolverhampton to address a mass rally of Conservative supporters at Molineux on July 23, 1949.
He was seeking to find a path back to power in Britain having lost the 1945 General Election to Labour’s Clement Attlee by a landslide.
Describing his arrival, the Star reported: “The sun was shining and the lawns in front of the aero club house were gay with the summer dresses of the women, mostly wives of members, for entrance to the airfield was strictly controlled.”
First person to greet him as he stepped down from the plane was Sir Robert Bird, president of the Midland Union of Conservative Associations, and chairman of South-West Conservative Association.
He met Wolverhampton’s Chief Constable Sir Norman Goodchild, before walking through the clubhouse to a waiting car.