And So It Happened, by Roy Gray Hill (Ex Library book)

And So It Happened, by Roy Gray Hill (Ex Library book)
Hardback with Dust Jacket, published by Wilton 65 in 1997, 324 pages. Ex library-book. (S8314WSOW)

From the foreword: I was born into the 1920s at a time when the Great War remained well in mind as the war that was to end all wars. I came into a world that was very different to that of today with few motor cars and fewer aeroplanes and no supermarkets. Much road traffic was still horse drawn as was all agricultural machinery. Wireless was at its beginning, and the British Broadcasting Corporation was still of the future. Few of our modern electrical appliances then existed. In some areas electrical power was not yet available including my wife's family home on the Isle of Wight. Birth took place at home with generally only the district nurse attending. Medical care was minimal compared with what the National Health Service has provided following the second world war.

I was born into a professional family of five generations of which three generations were intimately involved in shipping as marine solicitors practising under the name of Hill Dickinson & Co. As such, they managed various shipping organisations including the then leading Liverpool Steam Shipowners Association. I was to become the fourth generation. Later, my son was to become the fifth generation in a much changing world. In his time, many aspects of practising law have changed, so that today it appears much more of a hard nosed business looking for the maximum profit.

Some years ago, I decided to record the history of Hill Dickinson & Co. in which my family had occupied a unique position in advising British shipping as it prospered and grew. Thus, at the opening into the twentieth century, British shipping comprised just under half the total of world tonnage. For some years after the second world war, British shipping still comprised one quarter. Yet, following the second world war, successive governments allowed that asset to waste away in excessive taxation to subsidise a standard of life that its citizens did not earn. So that today the British fleet barely comprises one half per cent.

Researches into family and firm records and an ending ofHill Dickinson & Co. resulted instead in my chronicling the past three centuries as my forebears and I participated in them. Three centuries of vast change in human affairs, which I believe heraldsan evolutionary change of human making going far beyond our present imagination. Yet a minuscule period in cosmic terms, so that human nature and characteristics remain little changed.

Chronicling events over three centuries produces many individual tales within the whole while the whole provides a scenario of changing social condition. A scenario of travel through time and a changing world seen through the eyes and minds of those who were then present.

The scenario opens with the many social problems of living in the 18th century. They include tales of flight from a forced marriage, the horrors of plague, an old woman rescued from drowning as a witch, and the difficulties of the married woman. It continues in the benevolent school of Tom Hill and his sons that so much contrasted with schools generally of the era. Schools that were extremely cruel, vice ridden, and the subject of repeated flogging and appalling bullying...

From the rear side cover: Roy Gray Hill served with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Following demobilisation, he became the fourth generation of a family of maritime lawyers to serve a then thriving shipping industry. He and his forebears represented British shipping from sailing ship and early steamship to the appalling decline of more recent days. They were closely involved in the Titanic. They represented Cunard throughout its life as an independent company. That included the sinking of the Lusitania by torpedo and later the collision of the Queen Mary with its escorting cruiser H.M.S. Curacoa. A prestigious predecessor accompanied by his wife found time to explore then largely unexplored parts of Syria. Other members of the family have contributed much to the social and medical advances of the past two centuries.

Hill in his history of a remarkable family has cleverly combined the written word of earlier generations with his own knowledge. He thus creates a changing scenario of British social life as it has developed from the seventeenth century. He employs his legal skills in recounting events as we see them through the eyes of those who were present at the time guided by his own pertinent observations. They include an interpretation of past marine casualties and especially of the Titanic. Thus, we journey through time of immense change that Hill himself believes to be the forerunner of a new stage of human evolution of its own making.

The condition of the book is generally good. The duct jacket has some minor scuffs, and light creasing and wear along the edges and corners, but the spine is tight and intact and all pages are intact and tightly bound. The book is ex-library, and has a small barcode sticker and several ink stamps on the first inside page, a further ink stamp and some numbering in pen on the publishing details page, and another ink stamp on the last inside page.