Herbert Roland Hill was the sixth child of Joseph and Sarah Hill and was born in Windsor in 1869. In 1891, after serving his apprenticeship with Walter Dillow of George Street Windsor, the ambitious young blacksmith purchased the establishment of Mr. R. Graham on the corner of East Market Street and March Street Richmond, opposite the railway gates.
Recognising the value of shrewd and catchy advertising, he commenced some of his advertisements with the words ‘DON’T READ THIS!’ instantly drawing the reader’s eye to decipher what it was about. He was also a master of name-dropping, reporting that he satisfied orders for many notable citizens of the district including Mr. Phillip Charley of Belmont.
In June 1893 it was reported that Hill had shod one of the bullocks in the team owned by Mr. Wilson of Kurrajong. This was by all accounts a difficult operation and Herb was knocked down once or twice in the process. He had a liking for riding a horse ‘bare-back’, however in March 1896 he was thrown from his mount and sustained a fractured shoulder.
By September 1894 he was able to expand his business to include coachbuilding, adding two extra staff to his team. The following year he erected an additional forge to his premises, took over the adjacent shops along the March Street frontage and constructed additions to the rear. In 1898 he advertised the services of a first-class coach painter from Sydney had been obtained to take charge of the painting branch of the business.
Herb Hill was also an active member of the community, playing football for Windsor in the early 1890s and was a member of the Richmond Fire Brigade. He was also awarded the rank of Sergeant Farrier in the Hawkesbury Squadron of Lancers, a local volunteer military corps.
From 1907 to 1918 Hill’s other business interests included winning the tender for the delivery of mail to various parts of the district. In 1923 he opened a general store in the adjacent premises in March Street, formerly occupied by Mr Samuel Orchard’s Railway Stores.
Diagnosed with Bright’s Disease, Hill’s health began to fail and over the next four years he became increasingly unable to work at his usual frenetic pace. Bankruptcy proceedings were commenced against him in March 1927, with the sale of the stock and fittings of the general store being submitted to auction. Sadly, Herb Hill died at the age of 58 years in May of that year leaving his wife of thirty-six years Martha Mahon and a family of adult children. Rather than being disposed of by public auction, the court allowed Martha to buy back the household furniture and fittings for the sum of £15 out of respect for her late husband.
**The premises of Herbert Roland Hill on the corner of March Street and East Market Street, Richmond NSW c. 1900 Site now occupied by a service station.
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