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British Industrial History

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Arnold Frank Hills

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Arnold Frank Hills (1857-1927), managing director of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co

1857 Born in March, third son of Frank Clarke Hills, and Ann Ellen (nee Rawlings).

1871 Educated at Harrow School and at University College, Oxford (1876–9).

1871 His father bought a controlling interest in Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co

1880 Became a director of Thames Ironworks. Sought to improve the lives of his workforce. For five years (1880–85) he lived in Canning Town, devoting his days to the shipyard and his evenings to the improvement and recreation of his workers.

1886 married Mary Elizabeth Lafone; they had one son and four daughters.

At some point Arnold was appointed chairman of the company.

1895 Established the Thames Ironworks Football Club, it soon became highly successful; later (1900) known as West Ham United Football Club.

1897 Hills provided the club with its own ground.

c.1898 He introduced a 48 hour week, being one of the first employers to do so, and also set up a profit-sharing scheme. These measures, together with Hills's honesty and force of personality, won over his workers and industrial relations improved.

1898 As his father's executor he took his cousin, Arnold Edward Hills, to court over a debt[1]

20th century: construction costs were high and the yard was hampered by the cramped nature of the site but Hills would not consider moving the yard.

1911 After the launch of HMS Thunderer, no further orders were forthcoming from the Admiralty, and the shipyard closed down at the end of 1912.

1927 Died at home on 7 March in Penshurst, Kent.


1927 Obituary [2]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Morning Post, July 23, 1898
  2. The Engineer 1927/03/11
  • Biography of Alfred Frank Hills, ODNB