|Toy Brands and Manufacturers|
Johillco (John Hill & Co) was established in 1898. Where the name came from is unknnown as the creator was called Mr F H Wood! Mr Wood was a former employee of W._Britain and therefore already experienced in the toymaking trade.
Sadly there is not much information about the company before the First World War as information is sketchy, by the same measure it can be hard to find or identify figures created during this period as no catalogue has yet to be found.
Between the Wars
After the war far more is known about the company. For instance in 1932 it was employing 400 people through twelve departments; Designing and Modelling Room, Die and Mould Making Shop, Stamping and Press Shop, Metal Refining Plant, Trimming and Assembling Plant, Moulding and Casting Foundry, Process Painting Room, Carding, Boxing and Parcelling, Printing, Home and Export Packaging, Stock and Box Stock Rooms and Showroom and Offices.
While famous for its lead figures, Johillco also produced novelty items such as brooches based on the FA Cup and Zodiac signs as well as a lot of items focused on the 1937 Coronation, such as crown-shaped souvenirs, boxed display cases for horse drawn carriages and models of King George the Fourth and Queen Elizabeth.
Production was shut down during World World Two and like many toy companies the factory was sadly bombed in the Blitz. Surprisingly the majority of the moulds survived and were quickly translated to a new location in Burnley in preparation for beginning again after the war. However in 1946 the company was taken over by Mr Alec Standing, the proprietor of a printing business, the company name was altered to "John Hill & Co. Metal Toy Manufacturers" retaining the "John Hill" but making it clear that the business was under new management. Some changes were made in production and only figures that were guaranteed to bring in good sales were produced, with a balance being struck between selling well and ease of production. Most popular Johillco lines such as Cowboys, Indians, Knights and Zoo animals began again, but some of the farm sets such as the horse-drawn cattle wagon were never produced after the war, as it was decided that production costs were too high to justify it.
The company was slow to adapt to plastic toys and only began producing these in the mid-Fifties (as "Hilco"), a few years before the company finally went under, ceasing all production.
Joplin, Norman, The Great Book of Hollow-Cast Figures. (New Cavendish Books, 1993) page 134 ISBN 1872727263