Tributes paid to ‘incredible’ Bill Vinten who brought family company to Bury St Edmunds
Tributes have been paid to an ‘incredible’ director of a renowned Bury St Edmunds specialist engineering company who has died aged 95.
Bill Vinten OBE was a director of the television, film and reconnaissance equipment manufacturing firm W Vinten Ltd and board member of the Vitec Group plc.
We are truly indebted to this remarkable and lovely man
At its height the business employed about 600 people in Bury in the late 60s and he was instrumental in the development of a number of pioneering products - particularly for the fledgling TV industry.
Mike Martin, former sales director at the company, was responsible for selling Mr Vinten’s product ideas around the world. He said: “He was always enthusiastic and part of the team. His whole motivation was to produce better equipment, better results - he was quite unique in that way. He was an incredible guy.”
Born in Surrey, he was the youngest son of William Vintent, who founded the company. He initially trained as a mechanical engineer and tool-maker before joining the Royal Navy’s film production unit during the war.
After the war, he continued to work on feature films with Gate Studios and returned to the family company in the early 1950s.
In 1964, he was responsible for the company’s move from London to a new purpose-built factory in Bury.
His achievements include the design of the first camera pedestal which allowed cameramen to track and jib simultaneously without losing sight of the viewfinder, along with the first pan and tilt head to meet the BBC’s specifications for manoeuvrability.
He retired in 1994.
Stephen Bird, CEO of the Vitec Group, said: “Bill’s incredible dedication to our business spanned a long life of service that continued well beyond retirement. The Vinten name remains one of the most respected in the camera support industry with more than 240,000 units in circulation. We are truly indebted to this remarkable and lovely man.”
Outside of work, Mr Vinten was an enthusiastic off-shore sailor, took up skiing aged 65 and amazed family and friends by trying waterskiing aged 85.
Mr Vinten is survived by wife Elaine, six children, 12 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.