Even after the dockers dispute was settled, unrest continued at the Blackwall works. The joiners downed tools again on 1 March 1890 and the engineers went on strike in August 1891.
During this tense period, Hills was 'hissed' by his own workmen as he entered the yard. The works gates were picketed and some of the replacement men were badly treated by strikers when they left the works.
The West Ham Memorial Ground was created by Hills for the enjoyment of his staff and to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Sports days and cycling on the circular track regularly took place there. The Memorial Ground also had the longest swimming pool in Britain.
Unsurprisingly, given its location, the men from the ironworks formed their own rowing club and took part in competitions on the River Thames with other London clubs. This photograph shows the members in 1898.
The clubs and societies were there, according to Hills, to 'modify the social conditions of the yard'. Even the Thames Ironworks Gazette was intended to serve the same function and was a 'means of friendly communication between our shareholders, our staff, our workmen and myself'.
In 1895 Thames Ironworks formed the Thames Ironworks Football Club. Originally based at Hermit Road, they played at the Memorial Ground from 1897 to 1904. In that year they moved to the Boleyn Ground in Green Street.
By that time they had become a professional side. Since 1900, they had been known as West Ham Football Club after Hills had provided the money for a merger with another local side, Old Castle Swifts.