From Acorn to Oak
The history of George Hill (Oldham) Ltd – Timber and Building Supplies
On the 11th November 1919, exactly one year to the day after the first world war finally ended George Hill (Oldham) Limited, timber merchants and moulding manufacturers, now located at Scottfield Sawmills, off Ashton Road, Oldham was established by Saddleworth farmer George Hill.
George Hill had been inspired to set up his timber business after spending some time in the USA before the Great War.
With his son, Wilfred, George Hill set up premises in Water Street in converted cottages previously used for curing fish. Three years later, on leaving school at age 14, George Frank Hill, George’s younger son joined the family business. The demand for timber grew between the two world wars, driven by the need for better housing.
At the outset George and his sons shared the work between the equally, the warehousing, moulding and selling was done by whoever was available. It would not be until the 1950s that the two sons specialised – Wilfred controlling purchasing and George Frank looking after production.
Despite the depression of the 1930s the business continued to grow and further premises were acquired at Lady Street, Oldham (previously the home of the Oldham Ice Company). Later the company bought adjacent land on Lord Street.
The business passed to his two sons when George Hill died in 1948. Both Wilfred and George Frank Hill worked for over fifty years before retiring.
By the late 1950s the company had expanded its less than ideal three town centre premises. All was about to change however, when the Council took over ownership of them for redevelopment for the police station and St Mary’s Estate.
In 1960 an old mill site of five acres was bought from the council and operations transferred to there. The site at Scottfield was ideal for the company’s needs, despite early problems with old mill lodges, slopes and the odd ash pit. All these early problems were ironed out along the way and the company has made this site its home ever since. Five more acres were acquired in 1980.
Over the years the company has continued to grow, opening branches in Sale, Bolton and more recently Nelson in 2002.
Amongst the qualities which have led to the company’s growth is its dedication to quality. Timber is sought from all over the world and only the higher grade is selected for purchase by the company.
It has also been the little touches that have made the difference between success and failure. George Hill believe that all items on its stock list should actually be in stock so that a customer is never kept waiting. They also offer a free local delivery service on items too large to carry.
Sadly in August 2014 the founder’s grandson, a third George Hill passed away. The business is now run by the fourth generation, George’s daughter Jayne and her husband Andy, with her brother William also involved. Since the company began the George Hill policy has remained unchanged: “ To strive for the ultimate in service and satisfaction for its customers. “
The bustling George Hill complex is open six days a week and has ample car parking and is geared to cope with the needs of trade and DIY customers, from those building a whole house down to those simply laying a garden path.
Today, with over nine decades in business, the technology and equipment that George Hill employs may have changed, but the company’s commitment to good old fashioned customer service remains as strong as it was way back when the business was founded in 1919.