A painting by Julian Barrow (1939-2013) of Bill Thomson in his Bury Street gallery.

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After eight years in the Scots Guards and several years of uncongenial employment elsewhere, Bill founded the Albany Gallery in 1965 after a visit to an Agnew annual watercolour show in 1958 had piqued his interest.

The first gallery, shared with Richard Hughes-Hallett, formerly of the Manning Gallery, was at 14 Masons Yard, St James’s, where he remained until 1978.

Bill then set up by himself at 1 Bury Street, St James’s, where he remained in the same gallery for 40 years. Initially he held regular exhibitions but from the mid-1980s he became a regular exhibitor at the World of Watercolours and BADA fairs in London and the Works on Paper fair in New York. In later years, entry to the gallery was discouraged by Bill and impeded by piles of books, sales catalogues and watercolours which littered the floor.

With a dry sense of humour, Bill was a charismatic, sometimes irascible figure, and a regular presence at the frequent London watercolour auctions of the 1980s and 90s.

A familiar figure on the streets of St James’s, he was often to be found in Boodle’s or his beloved Turf Club. Reluctant retirement took him back to his native Shropshire and latterly to Kent.

A memorial service for Bill will be held on Tuesday, October 3, at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk, London SW1E 6HQ at 12noon with a reception at the Turf Club afterwards – all are welcome.

From Guy Peppiatt