Stan Hills (centre) in front of one of his beloved steam engines with a newly built Mersea Museum in the background. Also in the picture are Mervyn Dands (left) and Leslie Haines (right)
Colchester builder, Stanley Hills, was involved with many of the town's largest projects and was also a major benefactor to his adopted home of West Mersea. He was born in Claudius Road, Colchester , in 1910 and was a pupil at Hamilton Road School before joining his father's firm of W. A. Hills. He married Myrtle in June 1935 and had two daughters, Moyia and Erica.
A life-long sailing enthusiast, he owned a succession of small yachts in the 1930s before buying the 12 ton Mersea smack SNOWDROP which he used for trawling and cruising, making several trips to Holland, Belgium and France. In 1948, following a rough crossing with the family aboard, she was unfortunately lost while entering Gravelines harbour. He then decided to build a yacht capable of cruising in comfort and chose a 38ft. SOLANI class sloop designed by Maurice Griffiths. The MALWEN was built in Stan's back garden in Yorick Road. With post war restrictions on materials, her planking was cut out of baulks taken from Mulberry Harbour caissons. He provided a model of the SNOWDROP to act as a weather vane on West Mersea church.
He served as a Lieutenant in the RNVR during WW2 on mine sweepers operating mainly around the South Coast, finally commanding a B.Y.M.S. type motor minesweeper, an American built wooden vessel, 140 feet long and equipped to sweep many kinds of mine, including magnetic and acoustic types. He spent a year after the war clearing mines before joining brother Ernest to run W.A. Hills & Sons in Colchester.
Stan and Myrtle then moved to West Mersea and he built many properties on the Island including the Museum, initially for his collection of model steam locomotives but later setting it up as a Trust for the community. He was also involved in building the town's medical centre and dental surgery.
In 1979, he made medical history when he became the first man in England to be fitted with a new type of pacemaker. The operation at the National Heart Hospital in London, was recorded on film for use in teaching hospitals.
Stanley Hills died in January 1989 at West Mersea Nursing Home.
Always the man of action, Stan hauls the MALWEN out of his garden in Yorick Road, West Mersea, ready for her launch.
The MALWEN afloat. A credit to Stan's determination which he applied to all aspects of his life.