Gordon Hill

nemo57
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Gordon Hill

Postby nemo57 » Thu Dec 28, 2023 11:20 pm

For those old enough to remember. Hillman Cycles was started by Henry Hill post-WWII in Grantham St, Brunswick. Over the decades it became one of the most successful family cycle businesses in Melbourne: sufficient to provide livings not only for Henry but also his sons Barry, Gordon and Alan and their families.

Gordon was the frame builder, learning the craft from George MacDonald in the late '70s. He left the business some years ago, and it folded altogether in about 2015 or 2016. He was building frames until illness got ahead of him a few months past. And from his bed in palliative care 3 weeks ago he was still making arrangements for the completion of various projects for folk all over the country.

But today he has been released to the great velodrome in the sky. And in him goes a humble master of his craft, a man of extraordinary kindness and a dear friend.

And he once won the Brunswick Club Christmas Handicap. There was a lot in the hamper, to hear him tell it.

warthog1
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby warthog1 » Thu Dec 28, 2023 11:40 pm

He sounds like a good person and someone who will be missed. :(
Dogs are the best people :wink:

feelthewheel
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby feelthewheel » Fri Dec 29, 2023 8:15 am

That is sad news indeed. A loss of such a generous individual and true craftsman ... I consider myself lucky to be a custodian of some of Gordon's great frames.

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Tim
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby Tim » Fri Dec 29, 2023 10:33 am

Something I'll never forget was the magical sense of joy and wonder my first bicycle gave me. A sparkling blue, made in Melbourne, Malvern Star.
50 years later Gordon created that very same child-like magic. A sparkling red, hand crafted, Hillman Cycles racing bike.
Gordon's skill and knowledge brought the bike into being and his cheerfully generous, friendly, and warm spirited character rekindled those wonderful (sometimes flagging) feelings of awe, excitement and happiness.
Today I'll ride Gordon's bike with a feeling of sadness but also respect and appreciation for a man who wove technical and creative ability together with kindness and warmth.
We've lost a very special person.

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familyguy
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby familyguy » Fri Dec 29, 2023 11:47 pm

I just saw the announcement on his FB page. R.I.P. Gordon. The man made a lot of people happy riding bikes.

rkelsen
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby rkelsen » Sat Dec 30, 2023 12:09 pm

RIP. :(

Gordon1
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby Gordon1 » Sat Dec 30, 2023 2:32 pm

I purchased my first “proper” bike in 1985 from Gordon. I got a $50 trade in for the 3 speed Hillman that I had ridden to high school every day that my parents bought as a Christmas present for me in grade 6. Hindsight tells me this purchase was cheaper and easier for them than me catching a bus or my mother, heaven forbid, driving me to school. I am now grateful of their decision. My two older brothers also had Hillmans.

So, from December 1978 through to about 2004 the only bikes I rode were 2 Hillmans. I still have the 1985 purchase but it has been re-sprayed, by Hillman, and now running Shimano 600 arabesque. It was even a flat bar at one stage. I was never a serious racer or rider but am proud to have been bought up on Hillmans.

Where am I heading with all this rambling? What impressed me most about Gordon was in later life when I got into collecting was his gracious approach to sharing knowledge and especially any information on builds of his that he has records (I still have the receipts from 1985 so didn't need information on that). He didn’t know me when I contacted him later on chasing info on a Hillman without a serial number but he insisted on more photos so he could help identify a track bike (super vitus tubing, probably for 1km TT racing he suggested). He was happy to share info, share knowledge and help others always with a bad joke attached. He signed off his texts with Gordo and I wish I hadn't deleted the texts.

More recently I was lucky to go on a quarterly ride with him and later he was the guest speaker. I was on a 60’s Hillman survivor, he was on one of his recent builds. There were 4 Hillmans that wet day.

His gracious sharing of knowledge and actually giving a damn is something I will remember him by, all the while knowing he was a master frame builder yet incredibly humble.

An important part of Melbourne cycling will be sadly missed by many who knew him.

Oh and my name of Godon1 is nothing to do with Gordon Hill, blame my dog for the name.

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foo on patrol
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby foo on patrol » Mon Jan 01, 2024 12:19 pm

There has been a few of the Old School frame builders die in the last 1yr-1.5yrs. :( Sadly there isn't many willing to take up the time consuming trade, although there is a young bloke here in SEQ that is doing MTB and Road frames. 8)

Foo
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
Goal 6000km

troppo
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby troppo » Wed Jan 03, 2024 4:09 pm

I was lucky enough to chat last year and have him build me a frame, perhaps his last… as he wasn't up to it he gladly arranged a friend of his who has kindly taken on the paint and a few other kinks.

Although I never met him person he was a true bicycle fanatic and that energy he had to talk bikes was at it it's very least, invigorating!

On ya Gordon

Imwit
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby Imwit » Wed Jan 03, 2024 10:28 pm

troppo wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2024 4:09 pm
I was lucky enough to chat last year and have him build me a frame, perhaps his last… as he wasn't up to it he gladly arranged a friend of his who has kindly taken on the paint and a few other kinks.

Although I never met him person he was a true bicycle fanatic and that energy he had to talk bikes was at it it's very least, invigorating!

On ya Gordon
It would be great to see some photos of your bike when it’s done troppo.

troppo
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby troppo » Mon Jan 08, 2024 4:06 pm

Photos and a YouTube vid are planned :)

She’s a light tourer/rando bike.

Awaiting disc brake mount adjustment to fit a beefy pair of Paul Klampers and a powder coat.

Watch this space

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GaryF
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby GaryF » Tue Jan 16, 2024 2:38 pm

Thanks for this message nemo57.

Very sad to read of Gordon's passing. I used to enjoy my conversations with him during my infrequent visits to Hillman's as it wasn't exactly my local bike shop. It was always quite a treat for me to see him, his father and brother in their shop and be treated to some of their stories and knowledge on each and every visit. I just seemed to feel the history of Australian cycling and also feel the pulse of some of Australia's elite cyclists that were regulars there too when I visited. They were always welcoming.

Gordon would share his frame building philosophies and Henry always seemed to be able to lay his hands on that elusive part I was chasing as well as his years and years of cycling knowledge.

My take on the Hill's was that a bicycle was an essential tool to either get the rider to their destination or get to their destination as quickly as possible. Sometimes build, reliability and cost was the over riding factor or it could be the advanced technology of both material and rider fit without regard of cost was the aim. To get that rider from start to finish as quickly and reliably as possible and to do their job as bicycle constructors to the best of their considerable abilities.

Personally, I have an infliction where I feel a soul in my bikes and their components are part of that soul. I feel for them; always have, always will. But I always got the sense from the Hill boys that a component was just a component. It was part of the tool that they were building and that component had to fit that need. For example, to me a Campagnolo 50th Anniversary group-set is one of my 'holy grails' in my cycling world. I have a couple of friends, back in the day, that bought some 50th Anniversary components from Hillman as they needed that replacement part for their bike. Henry sourced that component from a 50th Anniversary gruppo just to get them going. The component filled a need. It was a quality component that was needed to replace a quality component.

On one visit I got into a conversation with Gordon, which was easy to do, and he told me of a frame he had built for his recently retired father so Henry could join his mates on a regular ride. He took me upstairs and Henry's new bike was leaning up against a wall. I could feel Gordon's pride - it was a special moment. It was a beautiful bike.

It is very sad that Gordon has passed and I feel a part of Australia's cycling history has gone with him but I will remember him fondly.

I still have one of his frames and it means a lot to me:

Image

Image

Frame made in 1984 by Gordon Hill for a 'tall rider' - according to Gordon. Deep metallic red. Reynolds 531 tubing. Cinelli crown machined both sides with "H". 615mm x 615mm; 72.5 Deg. seat tube, 76.5 head tube; Sugino / SR / Sunshine / Mavic / Nitto / Cinelli components; 18 1/4 lbs with components. Quality components for a quality frame and they all do their job. It's a very nice bike for a few quick laps around the local velodrome.

Garnett1
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby Garnett1 » Tue Jan 30, 2024 5:23 pm

Just reading this now, knew he didn't have long left, i got a custom made road bike built from Gordon in late 2019, i'm 210cms and couldn't get one that fit me and a lady at Ivanhoe Cycles gave me his contact details, he had made bikes for similar people my height previously (Paul Salmon)

Gordo always had time for people and always loved a chat, after he built the bike we stayed in touch and i would go over to his workshop at Croydon Hills once every few months for a drink and a catch up/tune up before his health deteriorated.

I'm glad Collingwood won the flag last year because he is a big pies supporter (me too) and he would text me after each Collingwood game he thoughts on the game.

Will miss him.

Gordon1
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby Gordon1 » Wed Jan 31, 2024 10:47 am

I was at Gordon's memorial on Monday. There were, as you would expect, some heavy hitters in the bike game (no not me) as well as some I probably didn't know or recognise.

My takeaway was (see my earlier comments) when his daughter noted that he was happy to share his knowledge.

As they say "knowledge is power" and Gordon was happy to share this power. In my books that goes a long way and this is from a collector perspective. For Gordon it was his bread and butter and potentially sharing too much would create a stronger opposition however it seems to me he rose above that.

As others have said Gordon's passing is a great loss to Australian cycling.

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foo on patrol
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby foo on patrol » Wed Jan 31, 2024 10:30 pm

Have heard nothing but good praise for him. :(

Foo
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
Goal 6000km

Ningaui
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Re: Gordon Hill

Postby Ningaui » Wed Apr 10, 2024 7:41 am

Late to this sad news about Gordon Hills passing. The Gordon and the family made a great contribution to cycling and my custom Hillman road bike is a beautiful thing. Vale Gordon.

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