The Hillman History
N. Hillman & Sons Ltd
The business has been family run from its inception in 1938 to the present day – the current Managing Director Gary Hillman representing the 3rd generation of the family.
The founder, Nelson Hillman, was one of eleven children; he and his twin Robert were born in 1914. As a teenager, Nelson undertook a plumbing apprenticeship and soon afterwards started working for himself undertaking jobbing plumbing work locally. Robert meanwhile chose carpentry as his vocation.
Nelson married Polly in 1937 as Robert married Polly’s sister, Elizabeth. Both couples moved into adjoining homes at 68 and 70 High Street, Green Street Green, where they were to live for the rest of their lives. Theirs was a unique situation where 4 brothers married 4 sisters.
In 1938, Nelson and Robert pooled resources and established the business to serve the local community. Nelson and Polly had 5 children – their two sons, Nelson Junior and Arthur, joined the business straight from school. The business soon expanded into the surrounding areas.
The partnership was incorporated into N. Hillman & Sons (Contractors) Limited in 1964, with Nelson, Arthur and Nelson Junior running the business. During the late 1970’s, Arthur’s eldest son, Gary, joined the firm as an apprentice straight from school as did Nelson Junior’s son, Clive. Sadly, Nelson Junior died aged only 44 in 1982. Mark, his eldest son, joined the firm during the 1990’s.
The business achieved sustained but controlled growth, particularly in South East London. Indeed, the Company thrived throughout the 1980’s by electing to service select public sector clients rather than focus on rapid expansion through other markets in a time of clearly unsustainable growth. This proved to be a wise judgement as the company maintained modest growth throughout the recession of the early and mid 1990’s that claimed so many building businesses.
The continued growth in the South London area saw the need to centrally relocate from Green Street Green into purpose built offices at 46 – 48 Ennersdale Road, Hither Green, London.
The company operates from this base today with Gary in the role of MD, with his three sons Jack, Billy, Charlie and Nelson Junior’s son Clive and Mark still keeping the family tradition alive.