History of the Bills Horse Troughs

Horse troughs with a history

Have you ever wondered about those concrete horse troughs, still seen in parts of NSW and Victoria, Which bear the inscription, “ Donated by Annis and George Bills Australia “?

Well very few are now in use most  troughs are usually empty and showing signs of age, or have been converted into flower boxes. Many of them have been removed from their original sites because of roadwork’s, and danger to traffic and redundancy.

But who were Annis and George Bills?

The story begins in1859 when George Bills was born in Brighton England. He came to Australia as a young man, and he and his brother established a wire mattress manufacturing business in Kent St Sydney, which operated successfully over many years.

During his lifetime, he took a keen interest in seeking out cases of human need and gave many thousands of pounds anonymously to assist the needy folk.

George Bills died in 1927 and his wife, Annis died in the early 1920,s. After providing some personal bequests, his will directed the income from the residue of his estate to be used to provide troughs for horses, and for the purpose of preventing cruelty, and alleviating the sufferings of animals in any country.

More then 500 troughs were erected in Australia mostly in New South Wales and Victoria, and some in overseas countries—England, Ireland, Switzerland [for donkeys] and Japan.

In the early stages of trough supply, each was individually designed and constructed. One of the firsts was a granite Memorial trough, hewn in one piece as a memorial to Mr Bills. It was situated in Barton St Hawthorn, Melbourne; the trough has long since been removed.

Later, a standard design was adopted, and Rolca supplied many hundreds of the troughs in Victoria and New South Wales. Troughs were supplied on application to the Bills Trust by Councils, and truckloads of 10 would often leave the Rocla Factory for installation by a team of men in country towns.

Most of the troughs were made and supplied in the mid 1930s in Victoria.

The cumbersome steel and concrete moulds were later removed to a Rocla factory at Junee. NSW, where about 20 troughs were made in 1938. The moulds were transferred to Sydney where about 200 troughs were made and supplied to various areas. But the growing use of the motor car and trucks caused a halt in demand for the troughs and none have been installed since World War 11.

The objectives of the Bills trust, however, have been subsequently met in other ways. Today thousands of horses, cattle, dogs, cats, and other pets are benefiting from the generosity of a simple, unassuming but intensely human married couple who died 85years ago.

One big project made possible by the Bills Trust years ago, was the establishment, in Co-operation with the RSPCA of the Burwood Rest Home, in Victoria which caters for dogs, cats, and other stray  pets.

Another, the George Bills RSPCA Rescue Centre, Burwood a suburb of Melbourne, was opened by His Excellency the Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe, on June 23. 1964 the cost was paid by the estate, and it is proving of great benefit in the treatment of injured strays.

Researched by George Gemmill 25 Brudenell St Stanhope 3623 Phone 0358573352  billshorsetroughs@hotmail.com

George has a photo collection of over 320 locations where these Troughs can be found.

I would like to hear from anyone who shares an interest in the BHTs.   Nov 2012


This entry was posted in George and Annis Bills, Horse Trough NSW, Newsletters, Travel, Victoria. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to History of the Bills Horse Troughs

  1. june anton says:

    A friend of mine who lives in Hampton,a Melbourne suburb, would like to know if there are any left in the bayside area. He would like to know the location of these and be able to photograph them.
    I have seen a few around and hope there are some left in the bayside area.
    My address is juneanton@yahoo.com.au

  2. Stephen catto says:

    Any troughs in agnus banks nsw

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