Chosen by Lauren Clifton, member of staff
George Hilton & Sons was a business in Haywards Heath for over a century, starting as an upholstery, cabinet makers and house furnishers in 1882, the family company developed to include removals and warehousing, an undertakers, and became Hiltons Department Store 100 years later in 1982.
From the opening of the first shop by George Hilton to the company’s eventual closure in 1988, this scrapbook/album collects together photographs, newspaper cuttings, letters, business and personal stationery, programmes, orders of service, and apprenticeship papers. Not only is the rise and fall of the business well documented, but family photographs and announcements of births and deaths trace the Hiltons through 4 generations, showing how the family business extended as the family itself grew.
The album illustrates how business records represent not only the corporate administration of a company, but can provide a rich resource for family and local history. Spanning over a century, the narrative of the family is so interwoven with that of the business, that the album presents a rare opportunity to view how such businesses were tied to the local community.
The carefully collected records feature local interests such as the Haywards Heath Brotherhood Brass and Reed Band, photographs of a tradesmen’s cricket match in 1909, and programmes from Haywards Heath Football Club matches. Details refer to the family’s role in the Sussex Road Methodist Church, and to George Hilton’s roles in local government, as well as photographs and programmes recording commemorations of national events such as coronations, royal jubilees and WW1.