ID TXA02290

TitleStanley Hills - Founder of Mersea Museum
Abstract

Colchester builder, Stanley Hills, was involved with some 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.

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.

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. After the war, following a rough crossing with the family, she was unfortunately lost while entering Gravelines harbour in 1948. He then decided to build a yacht capable of cruising in comfort and chose a 38ft. Solani class sloop designed by Maurice Griffiths, the then editor of YachtingMonthly. The MALWEN was built in Stanley's back garden in Yorick Road. With post war restrictions on materials, her planking was cut out of baulks taken from the Mulberry Harbour caissons. He also provided a model of the Snowdrop to act as a weather vane on West Mersea church. He also enjoyed engineering and had many model steam trains and engines and would often mount displays and invite friends to his large workshop next to his house.

Stanley and Myrtle decided that they would like to do something for the community and do it all in one go, so he planned and built this Museum. Stanley also persuaded his friend Leslie Haines to set up the Mersea Island Museum Trust to run it. Later he initiated the building of the Town's Medical Centre financed by the community in 1979 and then the Dental Surgery a year later.

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 the West Mersea Nursing Home.


The opening of Mersea Museum, September 1976.
L-R Peter French, Stanley Hills, Myrtle Hills, Semprini.

From a display in the entrance hall of Mersea Museum.

SourceMersea Museum
IDTXA02290
Related Images:
 MALWEN 1950. 38ft. Solani class sloop designed by Maurice Griffiths, the then editor of Yachting Monthly. The MALWEN was built in Stanley's back garden in Yorick Road. With post war restrictions on materials, her planking was cut out of baulks taken from the Mulberry Harbour caissons.  BF65_001_029_001
ImageID:   BF65_001_029_001
Title: MALWEN 1950. 38ft. Solani class sloop designed by Maurice Griffiths, the then editor of Yachting Monthly. The MALWEN was built in Stanley's back garden in Yorick Road. With post war restrictions on materials, her planking was cut out of baulks taken from the Mulberry Harbour caissons.
Abstract:From: West Mersea - photos and documents
Source:John Leather Collection
 Semprini opening Mersea Museum
 L-R Peter French - Trustee, Stanley Hills, Myrtle Hills, Semprini. 
 Photograph used in Evening Gazette 13 September 1976, with caption Mr Peter French, chairman of the trustees of Mersea Museum, receives the deeds from the donor of the museum, Mr Stanley Hills. Also in the picture are Mrs Myrtle Hills and Semprini who performed the opening ceremony.  MF05_010
ImageID:   MF05_010
Title: Semprini opening Mersea Museum
L-R Peter French - Trustee, Stanley Hills, Myrtle Hills, Semprini.
Photograph used in Evening Gazette 13 September 1976, with caption "Mr Peter French, chairman of the trustees of Mersea Museum, receives the deeds from the donor of the museum, Mr Stanley Hills. Also in the picture are Mrs Myrtle Hills and Semprini who performed the opening ceremony".
Date:11 September 1976
Source:Mersea Museum
 Minesweeper BYMS20, artist Commander S.W. Hills. Acrylic 13cm x 23.5cm Framed under glass, good condition.
 
Built as BYMS-20 by Bellingham Iron Works, Bellingham, WA, USA; Launched 27 June 1942; Completed and transferred to Great Britain 29 August 1942; Reclassified BYMS-2020; Struck from the Naval Register 10 June 1947; Returned to U.S. custody 10 July 1947 and sold. Fate unknown. [www.navsource.org]
 One of 80 minesweepers classified British Minesweepers (BYMS) and numbered BYMS-1 to BYMS-80 originally. Ordered in America for lend-lease to Britain. Pennant numbers for BYMS became BYMS-2001 to BYMS-2080 and she became BYMS2020.
 She was with the 151st Minesweeping Flotilla based at Malta. Stanley Hills commanded her from March 1945 to January 1946, working in the Adriatic. [dates from www.uboat.net]
 Mersea Museum Art Collection  MMA_9413
ImageID:   MMA_9413
Title: Minesweeper BYMS20, artist Commander S.W. Hills. Acrylic 13cm x 23.5cm Framed under glass, good condition.
Built as BYMS-20 by Bellingham Iron Works, Bellingham, WA, USA; Launched 27 June 1942; Completed and transferred to Great Britain 29 August 1942; Reclassified BYMS-2020; Struck from the Naval Register 10 June 1947; Returned to U.S. custody 10 July 1947 and sold. Fate unknown. [www.navsource.org]
One of 80 minesweepers classified British Minesweepers (BYMS) and numbered BYMS-1 to BYMS-80 originally. Ordered in America for lend-lease to Britain. Pennant numbers for BYMS became BYMS-2001 to BYMS-2080 and she became BYMS2020.
She was with the 151st Minesweeping Flotilla based at Malta. Stanley Hills commanded her from March 1945 to January 1946, working in the Adriatic. [dates from www.uboat.net]
Mersea Museum Art Collection
Date:c1943
Source:Mersea Museum
 Stanley Hills in 1923 aged 13 with Family Four wireless set built by him, including construction of variable condensers etc.
 Bright Emitter valves.
 6 volt Accumulator
 60 volt H.T. Dry Battery (Not Seen).
  At 40, Pownall Crescent, Colchester.
 This is a large photograph behind glass in a frame, donated to the Museum. The notes above are from the back of the picture.  MMC_P1155B
ImageID:   MMC_P1155B
Title: Stanley Hills in 1923 aged 13 with "Family Four" wireless set built by him, including construction of variable condensers etc.
Bright Emitter valves.
6 volt Accumulator
60 volt H.T. Dry Battery (Not Seen).

At 40, Pownall Crescent, Colchester.
This is a large photograph behind glass in a frame, donated to the Museum. The notes above are from the back of the picture.
Date:1923
Source:Mersea Museum