James Cullen Hill was born in Beckingham, Lincolnshire, in 1870, shortly before his family moved to live at Brimington Common. The family had moved to live at 76, The Blocks, Barrow Hill by 1875, from where his father worked as a furnace labourer at Staveley Works. In 1871, at the age of 21, James, his father and his brother, were all working at one of the collieries belonging to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company. That same year, James married Middlesborough born Elizabeth Cone, and the couple made their home on the blocks at 177, Barrow Hill.
The Derbyshire Times described James as a “devoted social worker.” He had been “a local preacher for 35 years, a loyal worker and member of Ebeneezer Methodist Church, president of the Christian Endeavour for 40 years, held office as trust secretary and primary superintendent and was a past adult class teacher and president of the C.E. Union.”
Prior to re-organisation, James had served on the old Staveley Parish Council for 22 years, and for over 30 years was a Governor of Netherthorpe Grammar School. As the Secretary of the Barrow Hill Liberal Association since its formation in 1904, James served as the Agent to three former M.P.’s for North East Derbyshire at a time when the majority of adult males first had the vote.
James was also chairman of the Barrow Hill Old Folks Committee from its inception and his last act in Barrow Hill was the distribution of gifts at Christmas.
James Hill was a teacher of ambulance and home nursing during the First World War, and for over 20 years, until he retired in 1936, he was ambulance attendant for the Staveley Company’s works ambulance. When Charles Paxton Markham was presented with a gold watch by workmen, he officiated as chairman, and for years was a great worker for Barrow Hill Hospital Committee. Prior to his death, he was an active member of the Barrow Hill first aid post.
James Hill died on 24th January 1941, aged 70, whilst on a visit to Malton, Yorkshire, where he died in the cottage hospital. His funeral took place at Barrow Hill Ebeneezer Church and he is buried at Staveley Cemetery.
His son Arthur was elected to the Staveley Urban District Council as an Independent candidate in 1939. Three years after his death, Staveley U.D.C. named Hill Grove in his memory.