The Society of Old Priceans


For pupils and staff of the former Prices Grammar School, Fareham
Founded 1721 Closed 1989

 

Tom seen here with former pupil, Mike Bayliss, Society Chairman, Patrick Nobes and former master, Mr Garton in 1989

It is with great regret that we must record the passing of Tom Hilton at the age of 93. The Funeral was held at SS Peter & Paul's, High Street, Fareham on Monday 30th January 2006 at 2.00pm and many former staff members and pupils gathered to pay their last respects. The Rev. Tony Marks officiated and prayers were led by Ven. Peter Hancock, a former pupil who is now Archdeacon of the Meon.

 

Our President, Patrick Nobes, gave this Eulogy

Tim Foster, Tom's Godson, added these memories

 

He died on 11th January 2006 following a short illness. His association with the School began in 1935 and he retired as Deputy Headmaster in 1972. He regularly attended the Old Priceans Summer Luncheon with his wife, Peggy who survives him.

Anne Ashton probably knew Tom Hilton for as long as any one. She writes:

Tom Hilton was a character that I have known from my early childhood.  I am not sure of the exact date that he came to Prices School as Chemistry master, but my father George was delighted with his new appointment, as just 4 years after taking up his own appointment as Headmaster in 1934 he was beginning to collect a staff of bright young men, such as Tom, and Tim Foster was another, and a Mr Hollingsworth another.  Alas on the declaration of war in 1939 they were all young and joined up, leaving substitutes to be found. At the end of the war Tom and the others came back and Tom from then on was to play an immense part in the lives of many many young lads from Fareham and surrounding district and in the school at large.  He was head of the CCF one of the best in Hampshire and he really settled and made his home in Fareham, his brother Dr Jim Hilton becoming a well loved family doctor and his younger sister Alice moving down to live in Fareham with their father, and teaching first at Portsmouth, then at Fareham Girls Grammar School, and also for a time in Haslemere, before finally becoming headmistress at Wykeham House. 

 
Another recollection that I have of Tom is the annual ritual of making the school's annual timetable always a job for the headmaster and his second in command; for many years Mr Shaddock but in his latter years Tom succeeded Mr Shaddock in this role.  It used to mean several late nights burning midnight oil with the whisky bottle to hand, and fortified first by a wonderful meal cooked by my mother.
 
Another memory particularly poignant at this time is of Tom, calling at the house after my mother died to express condolences.  Not for him the sending of cards or letters, but nothing less than a visit to express condolences would do, and this pattern was also repeated when my father died in 1985 and he came to see me.
 
Our modern system of education requires much movement of staff to gain experience, but those years of the last century did not see such movement and teachers would spend their careers in one school. Tom never moved from Fareham to the great benefit of all those who were taught  by him.
 
May he rest in peace.
 
Anne Ashton
 
I shall never forget him.  He is one of the most interesting characters I have met in my now everlenghtening life, and I will always treasure the memories
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Hallo Michael,
I was extremely sad to receive your mail regarding Tom Hilton.
As far as I know he was the last surviving of the masters who taught me at Prices, and I am very glad that I was able to meet him again very briefly for the the first time after 40 years two years ago at the summer luncheon in Fareham. I guess this really signals the end of an era for me, although I have to say that I was amazed to find that he was still living and so relatively fit 2 years ago.
I am sure that the Society will be fittingly represented at his funeral or memorial service, and if there is a condolence list or something similar organised, I would be very pleased if my name could be added to it.
May he rest in peace.
Mike Simpson
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Michael
I am sorry to hear about Tom Hilton.  Tom was one of the key people in shaping my life; it was he who took me from being a rebellious teenager and showed me better things, and as a result I ended up with a great career and a happy life.  I remember that he lent me his wartime notes on explosives manufacturing, which I suspect influenced me into taking up chemical engineering.  He also sold me his double 12 gauge shotgun which I still have, although very rarely use nowadays.  He was strict but fair and was I think probably the best teacher that I have ever come across.
Please pass on my sincere sympathies to his relatives and friends.  He may be gone, but I for one will never forget him.
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Geoff Dimmick
Dear Michael,
He was a grand teacher and I still remember his explosives lectures.
Could you please add my condolences to those you pass to his family?

Kind regards

George (Grimble)
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Dr Digby James writes:

I think Tom Hilton was the best of the teachers I experienced in my school days, not that he taught me must. I think I had a year's A level chemistry from him sometime during 1968-1970, probably the first of those years. He was one of those teachers who was able to maintain firm discipline and have a laugh with his pupils. He knew when to laugh with you and when to be stern.

My favourite memory is from, probably, early 1968. I'm sure it was my 'O'-level year. We had had a physics lesson with dry ice. Someone managed to walk out with some. For some reason we found an old shoe, filled it with water and dropped the dry ice in. We put it at the top of the stairs next to the 5B form room near the back door leading to the gym and watched the fog flow down the stairs. Unfortunately we were caught by a teacher and marched off to Tom's office to be dealt. About 5 of us, I think. Once there he looked at us very sternly when he heard what we'd done. "Was it funny>' he asked. Shuffle, shuffle, head down examining our shoes. "was it really funny", he asked again, with a twinkle in his eye. Once we confessed to it being fun he said, "Well don't do it again."
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Dusty Titheridge writes:
I am greatly indebted to you for letting me know about the death of Tom Hilton. I have such fond memories of him at school, but also being able to meet him on many occasions for a beer in his favorite pub. He was always immaculately dressed, and full of lively conversation.
We were so lucky to have had such Masters as he, Thacker, Shaw, Brown, Foster etc I owe them a debt which I can never repay.

Dusty

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Michael, (All can be published if you wish)

My abiding memory of Tom Hilton was his demonstration of how explosive a gas/air mixture could be(funny how a number of former pupils seem to remember 'explosive' moments with Tom!) The demonstration involved an empty syrup tin with a press in lid, it was filled with gas and the contents allowed to escape (and lit) through a small hole in the top, when the mixture of air and gas reached the explosive concentration there was a very satisfying bang and the tin was blown into the air and hit the ceiling in the chemistry lab with some force. I have never forgotten this ,and as my work over the last 45 years has involved both Towns and Natural gas all the time, I have been particulary wary of any situations where an explosive mixture might occur. This caution was thanks to Tom's graphic demonstration.
Although the last time I met him was probably about 1959 I have fond memories and wish to pass on my condolences to his family.

Gerry Potter
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I am most sorry to hear of the passing of Tom Hilton. As I did a rather solitary last 2 years in 6th Science as I attempted 1st. MB instead of HSC so the major part of my contact was Tom teaching me Biology and Inorganic chemistry while the rest did Organic Chemistry and no Biology, and Mr Shaddock teaching me Physics. Any failures were definitely mine!
I also had much to do with him in Army Cadets as I took over as RSM when Peter Gregory left for Sandhurst.  I seem to remember him as a venerable leader in my school years and even remember keeping goal for the 1st XI soccer team againsst Tom and the others without realising that as I am now almost 73 the age gap was only 20 years. Although I have had no contact with him since coming to Australia in 76 I feel his passing deeply, and my sympathy goes to his wife.
Bruce Moulson (1945-1952)
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David Williams writes:
Hi Michael,
Both my brother Howard and I were sad to hear that Tom had died.  Howard remembers him especially for his expert teaching of chemistry and for his leadership when Officer in Charge of the School’s Army Cadets.  I remember him as my House Master and the encouragement he gave in every thing I did especially my sporting activities.  He was an excellent teacher reaching out to all levels with brilliant control and a touch of humour.  I enjoyed the times I took him by car to the annual Christmas Dinner in London.  He was such good company and so good at remembering people and always interested in how life was treating them.  I may not have been one of his better pupils but I never felt he treated me any differently.  To me he became like a great friend and he will always be remembered affectionately.  Please include my brother and me in the Society’s message to his family.
Regards,
David

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Dear Michael,

As I mentioned by 'phone today, I aim to attend Tom's funeral on Monday next.

I regret that I was unable to see him before the his recent illness but I did write him a letter which I hope gave him once more appreciation of how much I realised that I owed him.

Tom was a great teacher and coach. He taught me a great deal more than chemistry, football, cricket and "military matters". I have so many enduring memories of his guidance, support and leadership provided so generously, always with a flavouring of humour and a chuckle!

Tom influenced my life for the good in so many ways, not least of which was his tutoring me and introducing me into three wonderful years at Christ's, his old college at Cambridge. For this and for much else I remain filled with sadness for his death and with gratitude for all he did for me, as he did for many others, at Price's. I was fortunate indeed to have been at Price's at a time when the staff were such a good team and Tom was a strength in that team.

Many thanks Tom, here's to you and God Bless!       

With best wishes, Michael,

Yours sincerely,

Tony Purkis ('47 to '54)