F. Hills & Sons Limited

These photographs belonged to George Routledge who can be seen wearing glasses in many of the images including the signed one. We believe the signatures read; R. McCarthy, Dave Pondell, Chalkie White, Bill Wilson, Ken Cooke, R.G. Ellis, P. Halford, S Morgan and A.J. Campion. The last image shows the Directors c1970 left – right; J. Smelt, G. Routledge, W. Precious, W. May, E. Precious, E.B. Goldron (Managing Director), W. Brown (Chairman), L. Blake. Courtesy of Pat Hemmingfield.









22 thoughts on “F. Hills & Sons Limited

  1. Hi not sure if this column is still running but here goes. I collect construction related ephemera and have just received some documents from F Hills and Sons at Trafford Park, Manchester. They are letters sent to a builder in Cambridgeshire and are dated 1935 and 1936. Does anyone want a copy? Which Bowaters took them over. Thanks. Dave

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  2. Been interesting seeing the pics and reading the comments. I joined Hills sales team in 1966 working with Tom Dawson, Fred Martin, Bob Johnson, Bill Woodside etc. Good to see pics of Arthur Campion, Len Blake, Bill Precious and the other directors. Also the lovely Tech Mgr Jimmy Elison. I left in 1985 as Sales Director under Derek Davis. Still got the crystal glasses!

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  3. I have never seen the picture of my father, John “Jack” Smelt, before. Many thanks for displaying it. As far as I know my Dad worked for F. Hills from about 1926 in Yarm, was transferred to Manchester in 1936?, where I was born in 1940. He was then moved to York where my sister was born in 1943. We went back to Manchester and then moved to just outside Eaglescliffe. He spent some time in Takoradi around in about 1953. At one time Jimmy Ellison lived next door, John Simpson lived next door but one and Ossie Buchannan lived a little further down the road.
    My dad’s brother Bill worked in the office for many years and my mother’s brother, Ambrose “Bill” Wilson also work for Hills for many years.

    I now live in Oxfordshire, but it is great to be reminded of my father’s career and some people I knew very well.

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    • John,
      When you lived near Eaglescliffe next to the Ellisons, was that on the lane that led to the farm at Preston, just before Preston Park? My father was Bill Precious and our family was very close friends of the Ellisons, and I would have visited that house a lot. My father also spent a lot of time in Takoradi, and spent all his working life with F Hills, in fact it was his life really.
      I live near Manchester now but get across to Yarm area regularly as my mother is still living over there.
      Julie Groves

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      • Hi Julie

        You are correct. Preston Lane led down to Preston farm run by the Smiths. Jimmy Ellison lived next door and John Simpson next door but one. Ossie Buchanan also lived a little further down the road.
        I haven’t been to Yarm for quite a number of years now as there is no one of my family left.
        My father, like yours, worked for Hills for almost all his working life, but he did find it difficult to adapt to the big company culture when Bowaters took over.

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      • Julie – I first met your father following the takeover of Hills by Bowater. He helped me in the preparation of a report for the new owner and stayed overnight with my family in Farnham, Surrey during our collaboration.
        Ken Maynard

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    • Hi. I met your father only once on my wedding day in 1972! Your mother was the head teacher at the school where I worked and they were both invited to the wedding. I still have 2 of the sherry glasses they bought us. Your mother was very proud of you and Winifred…….we heard a lot about you! I also have a very tenuous link with Smiths farm in Preston Lane as their daughter (Judith? Not sure of her name even though I once went to a birthday party there!) went to my school in Eaglescliffe.

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  4. Regarding the second last photograph, with the signatures underneath, the third signature along on the top line reads J G Ellison. This is Jim Ellison who worked closely with my father, Bill Precious (shown as W Precious on the last photograph). Our families were very friendly and are still in touch now.

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    • I have just been working at a house where we took up the parquet flooring. Most of the blocks are covered in bitumen but one or two have the writing ‘F.Hills and sons Made in Ghana’ on them. Does anyone that you know have any idea as to what type of wood they are?

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  5. Mary Graham, We were great friends in the Takoradi days. I well remember your dad Hughie, Jack Mico, John Simpson, George Routledge and George Hunter among many others. Would love to hear from you and any of the others.

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  6. I assume the man in the lederhosen is the driver of what appears to be a Swiss registered vehicle.
    Doubtless common attire in his home country but it would probably have raised a few eyebrows whenever he stepped out of the cab in this one.

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  7. Mary Graham. Many years have passed since the days in takoradi. I remember well you dad Hughie Graham. Jack Mico, my dad passed away 3 years ago at the good age of 93. Mam, (Edna) is still with us at the age of 90. Would love to hear from any of you.

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  8. Tania your Dad Ron was a good friend of my husband and me – Bill and Ethel Davies/Chapman. He married my cousin Sylvia Fishburn. We had some good times. We used to go to the dances at Head Wrightsons and the Maison. Ron and Bill often had to walk home from Thornaby to Norton because they missed the last bus home. If you would like to get in touch with us Picture Stockton have our email address. It would be nice to hear from you.

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    • Oh wow so my mum was your cousin…how awesome is this… I remember mum talking about going the the dances and how much fun they used to have. I will send details through to Picture Stockton and hopefully get to email you.

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  9. My Dad used to work here many moons ago, his name is Ronald Murray, would love to hear from anyone who remembers him, he now lives in New Zealand.

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    • It was a lovely surprise to hear from you. How are your mam and dad? I also worked with your mam at a store called Coates and Sedwicks. It was an old fashioned store. They were great to work for. The staff were great to work with.

      Your mam and I made lots of friends there. When we got our first house Ron helped us a lot. You should get him to tell you the rotten things we did to them when they were married.

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  10. Pat, I recall your Dad very well, and their bungalow, which was more or less opposite ours. I don’t recall a John Hunter, I knew George Hunter and his wife Aunty Dorrie.
    The Micos I recall, and have recently been in touch with Janice Langhorne, who’s Dad Ken along with my Dad, Hughie were also part of the Takoradi team. Would love to see more pics.

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  11. Pictures 2,3,4,5,6 are the ‘Lustre Line’. This is where the veneered doors go to be finalised. They are fed onto rollers which take them through a light sander. Onto a coat of varnish, then light sanded another coat of varnish and a3rd coat. After each coat of varnish they go through a heating system which dries the varnish. At the end of the right hand side line the doors are turned over and the process is repeated with the doors travelling down the opposite side.

    The coloured photo is the ‘Atlas Plant.’ When working properly it could make over 8000 doors a week. These doors were stock doors of different types. Paint and veneered.

    The 3rd last picture is a typical sanding machine where the doors are continuously fed by rollers into the sander and both sides are cleaned when coming out at the other end.

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  12. The 8th picture down is a machine that I once worked on at Hills. It is a cramping machine to make ‘Panel Doors.’ The components were brought to the machine on bogies. Stiles in pairs, left and right side. Rails, top, middle and bottom. Top rail has 2 dowels at each end and the other rails 4 dowels which when glued fit into pre drilled holes on the stiles. One stile is placed along the bottom of the cramp and the rails placed into position and then the other stile is placed along the top. The pressure is then applied and a door is made. In a days work you could make 350 stock size doors and if it was special sized doors, maybe up to 140 per day.

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  13. George Routledge was my Father and worked for Hills from about 1942 until his retirement in the late 1970’s. He started as a joiner, trained as a draughtsman and went on to be instrumental in establishing the Takoradi sawmill in Ghana. Members of his team included John Simpson, John Hunter and Jack Mico. When he returned to England in the early 1960’s he became a member of the Board of Directors, taking responsibility for Research and Design. The colour photo shows my Father with one of the machines he brought to F. Hills. I have many photographs of the Takoradi sawmill and its works – if anyone would be interested in having them I would be pleased to pass them on.

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