Men of Vision
The man who abandoned a fortune
by Graham Forsdyke
WE'RE PLACED with a problem here.
Either Mr. T P Hill of New Oxford Street, London, was the greatest unsung hero of the pioneering industry -- or he wasn't.
Let's look at the facts. There aren't many of them but in a small advertisement tucked away in the Exchange and Mart in 1882 Mr. Hill promised the earth.
For 1s 2d (around 6p) he would sell you a that would perform every possible task. It would buttonhole, hem, quilt and sew buttons on any form of cloth.
This, he pointed out, was a feat beyond the capabilities of any other of the £20 machines advertised in the same issue.
The reason the illustration looks a little tacky is that in the interests of crusading investigative journalism we've blown up the original four times so that you can see the machine that the model -- looking like something from a medieval tapestry -- is using.
That's right. It looks just like a cotton reel with a couple of needles sticking out of it.
Here's another surprise. The advertisement appeared but once -- anywhere. No further trace of it, Mr. Hill or the Speedwell can be found.
Probably Mr. Hill took a few hundred orders and promptly did a bunk but, there's one other outside chance ....
Could it be -- could it possibly be, that Mr. Singer saw the advertisement? Knowing that his empire was about to crumble he sent round a huge bag of sovereigns to buy out and suppress the invention in the same way the petrol giants are said to be sitting on hundreds of water-powered vehicle?
Either way we salute you, T P Hill -- Man of Vision.