Issued: September 7, 2017
Town council unveils blue plaque for "one of Epping's great historians
PICTURES: A selection of pictures from the unveiling for media use can be downloaded HERE
A blue plaque marking the former Epping High Street home of local historian and author Sidney Hills has been unveiled by Epping Town Council.
Sidney Hills came from a very old Epping family, tracing through his mother’s line, the Hummerstons, back to beyond 1785 in Epping.
Sidney’s aunt, Elsie Hummerston, ran the local bakers and his uncle, George Hummerston, ran the local greengrocers.
His aunt lived at 47 High Street, Epping, while Sidney and his parents lived next door, at 45 High Street, Epping, where he continued to live after he married his wife, Doris.
They both later moved to Chapel Road to the newly-built warden-assisted properties.
Sidney was born in St John’s Road in 1896 and lived in Epping all his life.
He went to school at the Epping and Theydon School (the then Elementary School).
After the First World War, in which he fought, he had many jobs, starting as a stone mason, a reporter for the Epping Gazette and eventually working for another old Epping family, at the Cottis foundry for more than 40 years.
His father had also worked for the Cottis family at the Cottis garage whilst also being the first secretary and treasurer for the original Epping Town Football Club in the late 1890s, a club Sidney continued to support.
Sidney’s mother, Elizabeth Ada Hills, was a local historian and published several books about Epping.
Following in her footsteps, Sidney will be remembered as one of Epping’s foremost historians.
Sidney had a regular column in the Essex Countryside magazine and in the West Essex Gazette noting and recording the history and life of Epping.
He also wrote many articles on such subjects as the origins and life in the Epping workhouse which started off in the High Street and later moved to The Plain to later be taken over by the Army in 1917, to become St Margaret’s Hospital.
Sidney also kept a pictorial record of Epping with many of the earliest photographs being saved for prosperity of Epping in a book entitled ‘Epping: the Bygone days’.
He also wrote several books which have become local treasures now stored in the Essex Records Office.
Town Mayor councillor Tony Church remembers meeting both Sidney and Doris who were greatfriends of his grandfather, Jim Church.
Cllr Church said: "I always remember them fondly, particularly the historical stories of Epping he used to tell."
Local resident Wendy Jonas nominated Mr Hills for the blue plaque which was unveiled at a short ceremony attended by members of his family and town councillors, Freemen of the Town and others interested in the town's history.
Also present was Sarah Joy, from Essex Record Office, who played a recording of Mr Hills recalling bygone days in Epping, including the time when a car was seen driving through the High Street for the first time.
Cllr Church described Mr Hills as "one of Epping’s great historians and writers".