39 thoughts on “A Centenary in Retrospect – F Hills & Sons Limited

  1. Can anyone tell me if this was the firm that supplied all the internal doors for the then new Cardiff City Police Headquarters in 1968? If it was, then they are the same company who supplied me with Rosewood veneer internal doors in my home. They are beautiful. If someone could reply as to what happened to the company I would be grateful.

    Like

    • F Hills supplied special doors to building projects and building merchants but would be special orders as these doors were not stock doors. If you bought your doors it would have to be specially ordered through the builders merchants as they did not deal with private individuals.

      As far as the company is concerned they were bought out by a Canadian firm called Premdor. Premdor wanted a hold in the UK market and that was their chance by taking over Hills. They also had a large factory at Barnsley that only made stock doors. In January 1997 Premdor decided that they were closing the Stockton site which manufactured the ‘special doors and taking the business to Barnsley. So on March 12th 1997 the Stockton factory closed for good making 125 approx people redundant.

      Like

  2. I served my joinery apprenticeship between 1963 – 1968 starting off in the maintenance joinery shop with Horace Hord being our teacher. The time served joiners being, Frank Pollard, ‘Big’ Ronnie Millington, Billy Smith, foreman Jack Conn and there was a painter called Maurice Parvin. We were gradually sent into each factory to learn the different production methods and met some great characters who had spent a lot of years employed by Hills. One of the ex mayors of Stockton worked in the fitting shop, Stephen Smailes with John Blackburn, Alan Shickle. I met Tommy Bowes about 9 months ago and he was still involved with the Malleable Club in some capacity. It’s a shame to see what is left of the ground were production was carried out by a large workforce and now it is totally wiped out as if it never existed.

    Like

  3. As of early 2011, the entire Hills site has been cleared for redevelopment although the current financial climate means that building work has yet to start. Possibly owing to ground contamination, extensive topsoil removal was carried out which means that it is now possible to look clear across the site from Norton Road. My first wife’s stepfather, one Tommy Bowes of Roseworth, worked there in the latter years of production… he used to have as a wall ornament, a 2-bladed aircraft propellor that was (as I recall the story from the early 80’s) found in a store on the site.

    Like

  4. Albert Smith I worked at Hills from 1957 to 1981 in the loading dept with Eddie Gransome, patching millions of doors over the years, and John Marsh in charge of in out materials and export goods all over the world. We worked two shifts. Arnie Wilson, shift foreman, and myself never seemed to stop. I knew Bob Irwin & Dougie Lunn. Does anyone remember George Jones who worked at Hills, Norton Rd but came back to Stockton a mechanic and was foreman who repaid the road wagons and forklift trucks, nothing ever to much trouble. I belive he came back to England when a lot of them came back to this country. Best place I ever worked.

    Like

  5. Lynne I have requested your e mail from the team, and can’t wait to contact you. Yes I rememeber Bernie, and believe it or not am in contact with Theo!

    Like

  6. Oh it’s great reading about the Takoradi kids. I spent most of 1964 out there and even went to the International school – I had just sat the 11 plus before going out to Ghana and mam didn’t want me to miss any schooling. I think Mary Graham went there too, we also went once a week to learn French at the home of Madame du Barace (not sure of the correct spelling). Does anyone remember Bernie Smith? Her dad worked from African Petroleum – their bungalows were just near the entrance to our compound. And Theodore Sloot? His dad worked for the cocoa mills, the compound adjoining ours. If anyone wants to contact me please feel free to do so via the Picture Stockton Team.

    Like

  7. I don’t think so Anon. I worked alongside John Lunn for may years and there was never any mention of that. Dougie Lunn I knew from being a small boy. He had 2 daughters , Barbara and Christine who will be just younger than me. At that time he lived in Cameron Street Norton and moved in the late 50’s to Letch Lane, near Carlton. He was the maintenance fitters superintendant at Hills. I knew of him going in Takeradi when he lived in Cameron Street when his children were very young.

    Like

  8. Bob, Yes I remember the name Jimmy Miller, although I don’t remember what he did in Takoradi as the last time I was there would be 1964/1965. I don’t recall the name Dougie Lunn. I will check with mam next I am up visiting her. Although her memory is fading she, like me has good memories of the good times we had there.

    Like

  9. As the North Shore Branch was orginally the main line into Stockton, after it was merged with the Great Northern, it became the only ‘branch line’ in the UK, where the main line had to bend round to join the branch.

    Like

  10. The engine Shed (51E) looks as though it is still in use on this picture, putting the date prior to 1959. I am sure I can see whisps of smoke/steam eminating from the engines, suggesting they are not in storage. The areas around Hill’s factory and the railway lands have been bleached out to emphasize the factory area. As for the date that the line from Stockton (Leeds Northern) station joined the Clarence Railway’s Stockton (North Shore)Branch, that was 1852, and the following year the Clarence tranferred its passenger service to the Leeds Northern station and Norton Road became a goods depot.

    Like

  11. OMG I remember those things so well Valerie. From your response I guess you are living in the Stockton area. It would be so fantastic to meet up with the Takoradi kids. The Picture Stockton Team are going to pass my details onto you Valerie.

    Like

  12. Do any of you people who lived or visited Takoradi remember a chap called Jimmy Miller. He lived at the beginning of Nortpon High Street in Harland Place. He died a lot of years ago but he often talked of working there. There was also Dougie Lunn who, when Takoradi finished, worked back at Hills as the Supervising Maintenance fitter.

    Like

  13. My sister and I remember all of you above ‘kids’ from our days in takoradi! Our father was George, a chief engineer with the firm from 1957 to 1965. We have many happy memories of our holidays in Ghana. I remember trying to learn to swim in Takoradi pool using an inner tyre that Dad got from the transport yard at the factory, taking the bus down to Kingsway stores to see if they got anything in from the ship docking that week,going to the officers mess for curry, Sekondi club to watch Ken, George Alderton, Ron Popple, Jack Mico etc playing snooker! Oh, Happy days! we would love to hear from any of you, keeping our memories live! Dad died suddenly 3 years ago, aged 86 and Mam, Avis, is now in a residential home in Stockton, happy to be with people as she really missed dad and didn’t cope well on her own!

    Like

  14. My father, George Barber, also worked in Takoradi, Ghana where he was fitter/engineer from 1957 to 1965. Both my sister and I have really lovely memories of playing with the’other’ kids who were visiting fathers on the compound. Dad died 3 years ago aged 86 and mum is now in a residential home in Stockton living the life of riley! I remember the ‘Mico’ boys, Lyn Hunter who travelled with us to Ghana on a never to be forgotten flight via 5 days in Rome in 1960!, Ray Simpson who visited dad and left lasting memories for him. My sister Lynne and I would love to go back and see the ‘old’ place! has anyone ever done that? Would love to hear from anyone who knows us! Happy holidays for us as kids!

    Like

    • Hi, Lyn Hunter was my mum…she passed away from cancer in 2010 sadly. My grandfather, George Hunter, passed away at the age of 94 – I believe – just a few years earlier.

      Like

  15. My dad Jack Mico worked at F.Hills in Stockton before going to Takoradi where he became General Manager. Dad was the last from Hills to leave after the factory was sold to a Ghanain. Sadly Dad passed away 3 years ago at the good age of 93. Mam (Edna) is still around and is now 90 years old.
    I remember daily visits to Takoradi pool except thursdays when the pool was closed for cleaning. We all went to Virgin pool just along the beach on those days. Ken, Janice, Hazel and Carol – I remember you lived up near The Rimswell. Your house is still there. The houses in Takoradi, The compound, are still there although a few of them have now dissappeared into the sea due to erosion. John Marsh’s house and George Hunters are gone. The others can clearly be seen on Google earth. Would love to hear from any of you who can remember those great times.

    Like

  16. I’ve noticed that Fact.6 is not shown. I believe it was built in 1971-72. Also Fact.7 which is the old Railway sheds looks as though it is part of Hills and not being used as such. There must be a date for the closure of the R/sheds so the photo must have been taken after this time.

    Like

  17. I worked For Hill’s for 19 1/2 years as a Maintenance Fitter until the bitter end, the above photo was taken well before that. Does anyone know when it was taken??

    Like

  18. The house between the row of houses & the workshop in right foreground was were Norman Holmes the pikelet man had his premises in Crosby Street.

    Like

  19. Vicki, I knew your Dad very well as I worked at Hills as well. He and Gwen his wife lived 4 doors from me and were very good neighbours and friends to us.

    Like

  20. My dad, Eddie Grandsome, was driver for Hills and was also at Takoradi. I have an album of photos taken in Africa including a couple with English children on them. Some of the names are Bill Ledger, John Marsh and his son James and John Hannah.

    Like

  21. I remember your family, Janice – Hazel, Carole and Kenneth, Aunty Norma and Uncle Ken. Don’t know if they will recall my brother Hugh and I, we were also in Takoradi at the same time as you. Wonder if there are any more " Ghana Kids" around? My Father was Hugh Graham, and he worked for Hills for many years.

    Like

  22. My father was Kenneth William Langhorn, he worked in Takoradi W Africa, and I remember
    Bill Precious, I think he may have been one of the directors of F Hills.

    Like

  23. My father also worked at F Hills and went out to Takoradi c1950. His name was Bill Precious. I remember the Bowater takeover well, and would estimate the date at summer 1969. My uncle also worked at F Hills, Ernest Precious.

    Like

  24. Bottom right is the old Blairs workshops which became Factory 3 at Hills. Immediately right is the Canteen and another Dept of Fac.3. In front of this building is the Boiler House chimney and to the right of that the Maintenance workshop. Behind this building and in the Yard is the Woodyard and again to the right, the light coloured building is Factory 5. Across to the far top right the Train sheds which were to become Factory 7. In front of this and not built would become Factory 6. Beyond these buildings was Swinburn Road and Brentford Road. Factory 3 made special doors. Factory 5 stock doors. Factories 6 and 7 was where the door frames were made. Missing is the Toilet Cubicle Factory which when built was next to the Canteen.

    Like

  25. Did Frank Bowen and his mates build any rafts to go on Lustrum Beck? Georgie Pinder and myself used one of them to go right through the tunnel under the marshalling yard. As regards accidents, the most serious one I know of happened in the Malleable. Two young lads from Portrack were playing “Tarzan” by swinging over some reservoirs for cooling water on the outskirts of the works. Unforunately they fell in and were sucked under by the pumps. This would be around 1951.There was a huge funeral as the families were very well liked and respected.

    Like

  26. The round circle is indeed the turntable and we used to play football on the empty land next to it. When the engine sheds went out of use (around 1961 I think), the turntable remained for a while and we used to play on it. One day the inevitable happened and a lad had his leg crushed, after which it was demolished.

    Like

  27. This aerial view shows part of the Clarence Railway branch line to the North Shore staiths, and the connection to the main line, north of Stockton Station. The branch line, which has the original two main tracks plus some sidings, runs straight past FW Hills. The straightness of the tracks is in contrast to the way that the mainline tracks have to bend round to meet up with Clarence branch line, showing that the latter was built first. Does any one know when this connection was made? The round circle near the railway sheds is probably the turntable, a vital necessity in the days of steam engines.

    Like

  28. My father Kenneth William Langhorn worked here after WW2 until about 1981. F Hills posted him to Takoradi in Ghana ca. 1957 where he worked as Plywood Factory Manager & later as a company director. F Hills were bought out by Bowater but I can”t remember when.

    Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s