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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Epping Bills Water Troughs

Just recently added another Bills Water Trough to my location list it is at the Epping Animal Welfare centre 20 Companoin Place Epping .  Also photos of the trough at High Street and Park Street Epping.

This now make my  total of 350 known places where the Bills Troughs are or once were located.


Mernda had a trough which was moved from the road side into the Hawkstowe Estate.

I invite  you to  send me any photos of Bills troughs you come across to my email address . They would be most welcome.

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Dubbo and Wongarbon NSW

Wongarbon is 28 ks from Dubbo in NSW show just how far and wide the Legacy of George Bills has travelled in Australia.

Any one seeking more information about George Bills send a email and your photos to safe travelling George Gemmill Stanhope Victoria

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Williamstown Bills Water Trough.

Hobson Bay Council is to be praised for the restoration work they have completed on the two Bills Water Troughs in their district. These two 85 year old water troughs have now been restored to as new condition. One is located in the Commonwealth reserve in Nelson place and the other one is in front of the Morning Star Hotel.

Great to see local councils taking steps to preserved Bills troughs and the history of them is a reminder of the generous donation George Bill made so many Years ago.


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Merrigum Bills Water Trough 2019

The Bills Water trough is located behind the Merrigum Historical Society Museum housed inside the Old Rodney Store Building in Waverley Avenue.

Told it was once located in front of the Old Post Office, before being moved into the museum,s yards.



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Bills Troughs on Facebook

Well done David Panther you sure have caught a lot of interest with this entry.
If any of the readers would like a copy of my list of locations please send me a email to and i will send you a copy . George Gemmill


🔹 Over 700 of these Horse-Troughs were provided free of charge for the welfare of Australia’s working horses and at least 300 of them still exist… this is part of the story behind them.

🔹 The troughs were financed by a trust fund established through the will of George Bills… each one carries his name and that of his wife Annis. George and Annis were animal lovers who despaired at the lack of facilities available to workhorses. Following George’s death in 1927, around ₤75,000 (a huge amount of money) was set aside to…
“..construct, erect and pay for horse troughs wherever such horse troughs are desirable for the relief of horses and other animals”. Over 700 were installed, mostly in Victoria and NSW.

🔹 The early troughs were manufactured in Hawthorn Victoria by J.B. Phillips. They were pre-cast concrete with a curved pediment containing the inscription “Donated by Annis & George Bills Australia”. Manufacture subsequently moved to ‘Rocla’ who produced troughs to the same design. By the end of WW2, demand declined and production ceased.

🔹 Aside from the horse troughs, the Bills Trust was involved with other animal welfare projects including the establishment of the George Bills RSPCA Rescue Centre at Burwood East, Victoria which opened in 1964.

Thankyou, Annis and George Bills. Photo of George below.

No photo description available.
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