Jim was always very popular and had a great number of friends. He was well known to many people in Wombourne and to many others from all over the country, due to his wide range of interests. What follows are several recollections of Jim that have kindly been written by some of his close friends.
Memories of Jim Boulton
I first met Jim Boulton back in 1973, when he came to see me in relation to some legal work, the firm having dealt with his family for many years. We got talking generally as to our mutual interest in old vehicles, especially those built in Wolverhampton. The day after, he called in to leave me a copy of a soft back book which he had written entitled "Men and Machines in the Banbury Run" being an account of the annual vintage motorcycle run which started in the town of that name. This was my first encounter with his vast knowledge on motorcycles and indeed old vehicles in general. Jim was also a kind bloke and would often turn up at the Office to give me a copy of whatever was his latest publishing venture.
The 1970's and early 1980's were good years for Jim as this was a time when old motor cars and motor bikes were, in many cases still being used by enthusiasts as every day transport. I recall his boyish enthusiasm when I gave him a lift back home once from town in my old 1948 Riley which I had just acquired. Nowadays you rarely see old vehicles on the road, being kept just for shows and special transport events on sunny days. This was a complaint that he often made in recent years.
Above all else Jim liked to share his passion with others and by way of writing and compiling various books on his favourite subjects.
I recall some years ago over at Jim's house in Wombourne looking at a book about steam locomotives. He explained to me that he had got the book cheap due to the jacket being ripped. “That don't bother me much” he said, “I treat my books as tools of the job, they aint no use just left on the shelf”. This was very typical of Jim’s “hands on” attitude to his hobby in general. He was never one for dead exhibits in transport museums, he always preferred to see old cars and motorcycles being used, doing what they were built to do, being driven out and about the streets.
Jim was always forthright in his approach to most things in life. He once told me a story as to how many years ago (much to the consternation of his work colleagues) he had questioned a working practice of his employer. Later on as a consequence he was called into the office expecting to receive some form of admonishment and instead was given a rise of 1/6p a week for his suggestion! Jim could never be considered a shrinking violet and this way of thinking certainly made him a larger than life character in the vintage transport world.
Jim Boulton's life long interest in all types of vehicles, especially local Wolverhampton makes is well known, however, he was also enthusiastic about bicycles and early aviation, producing books on both of these subjects, and his interest extended to old gramophones and cine projectors and films, hosting the occasional vintage film show, as yet another facet of his wide ranging interests. One of my own personal favourites was “The Story of The First Midlands National Aviation Meeting at Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton 1910”.
Above all Jim Boulton was a true advocate for all things “Wolverhampton” including local history and his contributions in that respect will be greatly missed, but what he has achieved will remain as essential reading for like-minded Wulfrunians for a long time to come.
In later years he would often arrive in style at local events being driven there by his friend Brian Hyatt in a 1935 Lagonda Motor Car. Even to the very last he was always seeking out books for his vast collection and only a few months back we met in town on a cold blustery morning and he produced a book he had just purchased about Amy Johnson for me to look at. Wolverhampton is a smaller place since his passing.
The Festival of Remembrance
Jim used always to attend the Festival of Remembrance in the Civic Hall, which was compared for some years by my husband Tony.
When one year Tony was unable to take part, Midge Squire his PA stood in for him. Now Tony had very limited military background (his Dad had been in the RBL & served in North Africa etc, but Tony was delighted he had been too young to have been called up). When the parade started the last year he took part, he used his booming voice to good effect, sending in the Army, the Navy & the Airforce, something Midge would never have done.
When she had to announce the services the following year she got it right- and announced the Navy, the Army & the Airforce. Tony was not asked again - instead they gave the job to Midge who did it splendidly for a number of years.
I chanced to meet Jim somewhere after Midge had taken her first very successful "Festival" and he kissed my hand as he always did. Then he said: "Where was your dear husband at the Festival this year? SOME WOMAN took it - Huh!"
I think that I first saw Jim Boulton in the mid 1970s, just after I had moved into Wolverhampton. It was at the weekly auction held by Skidmores in Lichfield Street. He would suddenly appear from nowhere and would make a quick inspection of the goods on offer as if always searching for something. Later I met him in Vincent Bulman's bookshop and gradually I realised he was a serious local collector of books, cycles and motor cycles and all sorts of things relating to Wolverhampton. Once we knew each other better he was always able to produce an item relevant to whatever I found myself researching. He was generous in passing on information and loaning photographs or artefacts and he was always very supportive of any research venture that one might undertake. However - he was a "collector" rather than a "curator" and his endearing lack of organisation meant that he did more to help others than he did to further his own efforts. His own books on local transport materialised because others bravely undertook the task of sorting everything into some kind of order for him. But if Jim hadn't collected everything in the first place we would all be the poorer.