Bille Water Troughs

             Horse Troughs with a History

Have you ever wondered about those concrete horse troughs, still seen in many parts of NSW and Victoria, Which have a Terrazzo Plaque scripted on it

Donated by Annis and George Bills Australia”

I first became interested in these troughs in 1983 when a Tidy Town campaign was being run, while cleaning up in my town of Stanhope near the old Bills trough which was once  beside where the entrance was to the old Stanhope railway station.

It reminded me as was the same sort of horse trough which was near the Newport Railway station when as a 13 year old I sold the Herald newspaper beside it.

This was when horses pulling carts were still a common sight on the roads.

.  I can still well remember the trades men with their horse and carts stopping at the trough to give their horses a well earned drink, as they were delivering goods to homes in the Newport district, such as Ice, Bread, Milk, Wood and briquettes, most of these goods were delivered by horse and cart, even the old Bottle O who bought empty bottles to be recycled, plus many other people who were still using a horse and gig as a means of transport.

. On a hot day these cart horses could drink up to 60 litres plus of water a day.

Well very few of these troughs are now in use, most are usually empty and showing signs of age, or have been converted into flower boxes. Most of them have been removed from their original sites due of roadworks, and redundancy being no longer require for what they were once used for.

Quite a lot have been saved and are now in private ownership and being well care for.

They still serve as a reminder of our past history when horses were the major way of transport.

.  But who were Annis and George Bills?

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

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

George Bills died in December 1927 and his wife Annis had pre deceased him, she passed away in England when they were over there on holidays in the early 1920,s.

After providing many personal bequests, George in his will directed the income from the residue of his estate was to be used to provide drinking troughs for horses, and other animals he said it was in preventing cruelty, and alleviating the sufferings of animals in any country. He wanted no animals to go thirsty.

I believe there was more than 500 troughs made and erected in Australia mostly first in Victoria then in New South Wales and, and others were funded 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 George Bills. It was situated in Barton St Hawthorn, Melbourne; the trough has long since been removed.

Later, a standard design was adopted, and from a mould made at the Rolca Concrete Company and they supplied many hundreds of these troughs throughout Victoria and New South Wales.

The troughs were supplied free of charge after an application was made to the Bills Trust by Councils, and other originations,  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 before the moulds were transferred to Sydney where more troughs were made and supplied to various areas. But the growing use of the motor vehicles and trucks, this caused a halt in demand for the troughs and none have been installed after World War 2 ended..

The objectives of the Bills trust, however, now having been subsequently met it was used  in other ways.

One big project made possible by the Bills Trust years ago, was the establishment, in Co-operation with the RSPCA  Victoria was the George Bills RSPCA Rescue Centre, in Burwood a suburb of Melbourne,  it was opened by the then Grosvenor  His Excellency the Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe, on June 23. 1964 the cost was paid for by the estate, and it is still proving of great benefit in the treatment of injured and stray animals..

I admire the generosity and foresight George Bills had when he set up the Bills Trust remembering it all occurred during the years of the great depression in the early 1930ies.The information in this leaflet is from the many items I have been collecting over thirty +years I do not know who wrote them but they all tell much the same story.

It has been my hobby collecting photos of Bills troughs. I now have a file of over 340 locations, of where these Bills troughs still are, or where they were once located and many of them you can still be seen in your travels.

I would greatly appreciate it if any one who sights any of these Bills troughs, if they would please take the time to forward me a digital photo to this email address

I do hope whoever reads this leaflet enjoys the read and it enlightens them on the wonderful acts George and Annis Bills did for animals so many years ago.

I would be happy to answer any question you might have, and pass on any information I have collected. It has been my pleasure to compile this leaflet and your comments will be most welcome just send them to my email address.

Or visit my web site search for  bill water troughs wordpress


Researched and written by George Gemmill 25 Brudenell St Stanhope 3623

Phone 03 58572352


Disclaimer: This information is not to be deemed to be legal advice.

It is supplied in good faith and is believed to be correct.

However, no liability whatsoever is accepted from the use or reliance of this, or other information available.

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