“A true gentleman.” Tributes paid after death of former Sunderland mayor

Picture taken in May 1993. Mayor Bill Craddock shows the Queen around Sunderland Civic Centre.
Picture taken in May 1993. Mayor Bill Craddock shows the Queen around Sunderland Civic Centre.
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A FORMER Mayor who played a pivotal role in Sunderland becoming a city has died.

Ex-serviceman, historian, community stalwart and all-round “gentleman” William Craddock was the first Mayor to be elected after the Queen awarded the town city status in 1992.

The former councillor had represented the Washington West ward since 1987, and was an ex-member of Tyne and Wear County Council and Washington New Town Corporation.

Friend and Washington Central councillor Dianne Snowdon said: “Bill went down to London and picked up the official seals when Sunderland became a city.

“He was a true gentleman who would help anyone and will be sadly missed.

“Even after he retired from being a councillor, he was heavily involved in the community, particularly with things like Washington’s Millennium Centre.”

Always a keen ambassador for the city, Bill promoted Sunderland’s interests as far afield as Japan.

He even risked the wrath of FBI agents when he stood on the steps of the White House in Washington DC to promote the original Washington in Tyne and Wear.

A former factory worker and print union official, he told the Echo in 1992 that he was “humbled and very proud” to become Sunderland’s first city Mayor.

His vision of the future of the city included seeing the polytechnic elevated to a university, the continued expansion of industry and “restoration of civic pride”.

Speaking at the time, he said: “I see it as the start of a fight back to a prosperous future.”

Bill was also closely involved with the Royal British Legion, the Bowes Railway Museum in Springwell Village and a host of other groups.

Bill retired in 1991 from Spicers envelope factory in Washington after 17 years with the company. He was 87 when he died on Sunday.

Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “I would like to pay tribute to Bill, who served this community with such distinction over so many years.

“We are all saddened by his loss, and our thoughts and best wishes are with his family at this difficult time.

“Bill served the community for many years and spoke with great pride at being Mayor at the time Sunderland was awarded city status.

“As a councillor, he was a respected opponent who contributed a lot to council debates and committees.”