Emerald’s George Bills Trough
According to my old friend Tony McGarry, until about 30 years ago there was a horse trough at the corner of Benson St and Kilvington Drive (At the time the main road to Beaconsfield, before Cardinia Dam was built in the 1970’s.).
With the growing recreational use of horses in the area, a horse trough was proposed to be reinstalled at the Benson St. corner. Enabling riders to stop off, tie up their horses and have a short break in town.The President of the Hogan Park Committee, started looking for a Horse Trough. Inspired by the Bills Horse Trough story started looking for a Bills Trough.
Up until the end of the 1930’s, there were 900 troughs distributed by the Bills Trust throughout Australia. Finding one, out of use and available to be restored and re-commissioned took 6 months. We hardly expected to find one within 16 Km from Emerald (10 Miles for those stuck in the past)
The Emerald, George Bills Trough was found at Akoonah Park, semi buried and covered in weeds, sitting by the open horse stalls. It had in the past been used used to water horses and cattle at the stalls of the show grounds. It had been at Akoonah Park for the last about 40 years.
When new, its original location would likely have been in the Berwick Green, along with 2 other troughs that are still located at Akoonah Park. The Berwick Green is now mainly a carpark, but was in the distant past a holding yard for droving cattle, coming to and from the Dandenong Sale Yards.
The Benson St trough is now in the custodial care now of Hogan Park Committee. It has now been restored and is kept full of fresh potable water (Suitable for Horses and Dogs).On the first day when the Emerald trough was filled, within an hour, 2 horses enjoyed a drink at the trough. Once the horses gave the trough a through sniff over.
Horses visiting the trough is now a daily occurrence, a nice reminder of our past reliance on working horses.For the provision of the Trough, we have to thank, Akoonah Park Management Committee for their kind assistance, John Scorse for the use of his crane truck, John Ricketts of Wagons & Water Troughs for providing the missing parts and the Thomas-Smith Family, who restored the trough.
Time to Reflect So when you see the Bills Trough in Emerald, you may wish to pause for a moment, bring your mind back to a quieter, Emerald, not so long ago. A time when the only entertainment to be had was to be involved in a local Church or go to a local dance or whist night.An Emerald where the Butcher’s jinker & the General Merchant’s horse cart made their daily rounds. Jones’s Bakers Cart full of fresh bread, was smelt before you saw it, and there, a few farmer’s children astride old grey Ned, are sharing a horse going to school.
Then approaching from down Old Beaconsfield Road, there is a farmer covered in dust, driving his dozen heffers to Emerald Station yard, dog barking at there heals to keep them in line. At Station, there are milk churns sitting in the sun, and there is timber lining boards being unloaded off the flat rail cars, onto a waiting dray. A bored horse is standing on 3 legs, patiently waiting to be off to deliver and distribute timber to carpenters in the nearby Benson Estate.
At the same time the local timber mills fight for space on Puffing Billy flat car to get lumber delivered to the big smoke of Furntree Gully. The miller’s shire horses had the hardest job of all, pulling, sweating, panting in teams, hauling large loads of lumber over hill and dale, looking forward to a cool drink at the Benson St Trough.Just another normal quiet Emerald day. The trough, full of fresh water, is a small reminder not to forget our past.
Thanks to Andrew Smith for supplying this information