Moonee Ponds Court House


This is my last post for 2019 and has some welcome news.

 The Essendon Historical Society are now back in their home at the restored Moonee Ponds Court House . You will remember that the court house was badly damaged by fire back in 2016 and some photos to show the extent of the damage.

 While these major restoration work were being carried out the Bills water Trough also received some TLC from Grimwade’s  Melb. Uni Grimwade Centre conservationists and was relocated into a more prominent place it now make a feature item in the garden in front of the Museum . John Ricketts made 3 new supports that the BHT is now mounted on, and Julie Scott has researched and supplied the information which is shown on the Plaque beside the BHT .

For more information, please visit:

..Congratulations to everyone involved in the restoration works as many voluntary hours of labour over 3½ years was spent to restore the building and re-house the collection of photos and records.


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Charlton Bills Trough

The Bills water trough in Charlton is different to the other ones we are see the most, as it would have been funded by the Bills Trust, and had been made by a local builder in 1931. and had a brass plaque Annis and George Bills Australia. on one end.

It is located at the Rear of  Traffic Education Centre in Kaye Street

Thanks David J for sending me this  photo 2019.

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Poowong Bills Water Trough

  • In my research on the Bills water troughs for over 30 years I have always found at in the small town there is someone or a group of people who have taken care of the Troughs and make a feature item out of them. I do know now there is now a lot of people who are looking out for the BHTs when they are out for a drive.

  •  A bit like the Silo Art Trails throughout Victoria and NSW.

Praise must be given to whoever is responsible for the lovely flower show which is on display this month in the BHT at Poowong.

Congratulation to all who have made this a delightful Show of Flowers .

There is now a website for anyone wanting more information about the Bills Water Troughs.  Just do a search on this site and then look for the fact sheet George and Annis Bills.

Sure you will find what David Hibbert has researched very interesting.

You can also take a look at my site, go to billswatertroughs wordpress

I have been making a entry there once a month for many years now.

Hope you all enjoy the read. Please send me your comments and photos to  always welcome.

Take care and safe travelling George Gemmill


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George and Annis Bills

Hello to all my Bills Water troughs friends just wanting to share with you a most comprehensive write up on George and Annis Bills.

It has been written by David Hibbert from Alexandra;

David has written up what he calls a factsheet on George and Annis Bills, along with others all well worth while taking a read for them you will find them all very interesting.

To view the factsheet go to his web site  then look for George and Annis Bills.

I also invite you to have a look at my site billswatertroughs.wordpress this is where I have been spreading the word on the wonderful legacy about George Bills.

Hope you all enjoy the read Safe travelling George Gemmill.

PS would be interested in any feed back

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Boree Creek.

Boree Creek is a small country town in the Riverina District of  NSW has been in the news lately as it was the home town of Tim Fischer a former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia . Tim passed away in Albury on the 21st August 2019 he would be sadly missed by all who knew him as he was a very popular man.

Boree Creek is also home for one of the Bills water trough and i have posted a photo of the BHT there. There are also Bills troughs in the nearby towns of Urana and Oakland all would have been supplied from the Bills trust.

Hope anyone who reads this post and are travelling about our great country if you happen to sight a Bills trough could you please spare the time to take a photo of it for me and send it to my email address

Safe travelling and Best Wishes George Gemmill


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Adelaide’s War Horse Memorial Trough

The War horse memorial trough in Adelaide’s East parklands has not always stood at its present location, its first home being in the centre of the city in Victoria Square. Prior to it relocation in 1967 the trough was a favourite stopping place for horses bring produce to the nearby Central Markets. The 16 ft trough is carved from one single block of marble.

Item is from Russell Smiths Book Curiosities of South Australia

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Bills Troughs in South Australia

From a article is copied from a book, Curiosities Of South Australia number 4 by the late Russell Smith who passed away earlier this year. Russell and his wife Pam had spent a lot of time trying to find evidence of Bills water troughs in South Australia without any sightings.

I would love to know if there is a”Bills Trough “Still existing anywhere in South Australia. I have not been able to locate any, yet just across the border in Victoria they are everywhere for our neighbouring state boasts about 500. They can be found there in large cities, Small country towns and tiny roadside whistle-stops. Bills troughs are not confined to Victoria for they were also placed through New South Wales Central Australia [for camels] and possibly Queensland. Overseas countries benefited as well –England Canada, Switzerland, Bulgaria, South Africa, Japan, and who knows where else.

Most of those surviving in Australia are or the same standard design—made of concrete, standing on three concrete blocks a small tray down one end for dogs and attached drinking fountain for humans. On the raised panel backing each trough can be found a memorial plaque. “Donated by Annis and George Bills Australia”.

Who then were George and Annis Bills and what is the story behind this remarkable donation and distribution efforts?

George Bills was a mattress maker of Sydney and Brisbane so the influencing factor was not his occupation. He did however have a great love of animals and he gave considerable time to serving the RSPCA, an activity he shared with his wife Annis. Both were granted Life membership of that organization. Annis died in England while on holidays in 1910, after which George returned to live in retirement in Melbourne where he carried on with the voluntary work.

When George died in 1927 he left a will that surprised many. His estate amounted to over 80, 000 pounds  and apart from some small legacies the bulk of that huge sum was to be used for the benefit of horses and other dumb animals, anywhere in the world, wherever the need was the greatest. The “Bills Trust” was set up to carry out the former mattress maker’s wishes. In England the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association of London was subsequently appointed to find locations as were similar organizations in other countries. Here in Australia the troughs were first individually designed and constructed at Hawthorn by jack Phillips, a nephew, of George Bills. Before long a standard design was adopted and eventually Rocla of Melbourne gained the manufacturing for the troughs, which, subject to approval, was then despatched by a most suitable mode of transport   and installed by a special team of men, all courtesy of the Bills Trust. Assurances had to be given to the Trust that a sufficient water supply was on hand and that the recipient body would have a foundation prepared. The attached drinking fountain for humans was not always installed because many country towns, particularly in Victoria‘s Mallee, could not guarantee that their water was fit for drinking. Toward the end of the 1930s the steel and concrete moulds were moved to a factory in Junee NSW and later to Sydney. Considering the large number in our neighbouring states and the many that can be found just across the border it remains a puzzle why Bills Troughs did not come to South Australia __ or did they?

If anyone have knowledge of Bills Troughs in South Australia please  let me know and if you sight a Bill trough anywhere in you travels please send me a photo to

Thanks George Gemmill  Stanhope Victoria

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