The Annis and George Bills Story

The Story of the Bills Horse Troughs. Stanhope a small country town on the western edge of the Goulburn Valley has a Bills Horse Trough which still stands, where the entrance was to the long gone Stanhope Railway Station, It is one of many troughs which can still be seen all over Victoria and NSW. These Bills Horse Troughs are monuments which remind us of years gone by when horses and carts were the main ways to travel, and to transport goods. All these troughs bear an inscribed terrazzo name plate stating “Donated by George and Annis Bills Australia.”But just who were George and Annis Bills?

George Bills was born in Brighton, England on the 11th of March 1859. He was the fourth child of Richard and Elizabeth Bills. They had 14 children and three of the children died at birth. The family first migrated to New Zealand and from there the family moved to Echuca, Victoria in August 1873.

In his early life he worked in Echuca with his father and some of his brothers they were involved with trapping and trading in Birds, it was there that George developed a great love for all animals. George and his brothers became successful business partners when they manufactured Inner spring mattress.

George married Annis Swann in Brisbane in 1885 and she died in 1910 in Brighton England. George passed away 14/12/1927.and was cremated at the Fawkner Cemetery, in his will George Bills directed that after many generous bequests to family and friends that with the income from his estate, a trust fund be formed to construct, and erect, and pay for Horse troughs, wherever they may be of opinion, that such horse troughs are necessary, or desirable for the relief of horses or other such dumb animals either in Australasia in the British Isles or in any part of the world subject to the consent of the proper authorities being obtained.All of these troughs were made by “Rocla Concrete Pipes” and the troughs were installed in Victoria and NSW from 1930. No troughs were made after 1939. The cost of the troughs was about 13 pounds plus the transport and installing costs. Note It is not known the value of the estate was but believed to be about 70.000 pounds to 80.000 Pounds.

Another gift was made to the George Bills RSPCA Rescue Centre, Burwood a suburb of Melbourne, and it was opened by His Excellency the Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe, on June 23. 1964. The cost of the centre was paid by the estate, and it is proving of great benefit in the treatment of injured strays. Bills Troughs can also be seen in in many country towns and large cities..

George Gemmill has made up a Web site of the generous gifts and where these troughs are located he has a list of over 330 places some as far away as in England, Ireland, and in Western Australia.

If you would like to learn more about these troughs you can contact George Gemmil

or view the website web site at billshorsetroughs-wordpress November 2014 201

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