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Death of ex-Rochester publican Bill King who played Bill Sikes from Oliver Twist at Dickens Festivals

Bill King, one of Rochester’s most respected pub landlords, has died. Mr King, who was 69, died peacefully in his sleep after a short illness. He was well known for playing the Dickens character Bill Sikes, with his English bull terrier Bulls Eye always by his side, at the town’s festivals.

This weekend he was due to take on the familiar role loved by thousands at the Dickensian Christmas extravaganza.

A former chairman of the Medway Licensed Victuallers’ Association, he was the licensee of the King’s Head Hotel, the Jolly Knight, Ye Arrow and the George Vaults in the High Street. He also ran the Rose and Crown at Shorne and the Three Tuns in Lower Halstow. His last pub was the King’s Head in Sutton Valence.

Bill King as Bill Sikes at the Dickens Festival
Bill King as Bill Sikes at the Dickens Festival

He started the pub watch system in the Towns, alerting other publicans and liaising with the police about drink-related anti-social behaviour, and gave talks to schools on alcohol awareness.

Mr King leaves a widow, Margaret, two sons, Terry and Alan, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

His son Terry said: “There was not a lot my father didn’t know about what was going on in the Medway Towns. The number of times you would open the local newspapers and there would be a quote ‘Bill King said’. He had a certain authority about him.”
Details of his funeral are yet to be announced.

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