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With thanks to Trentham & District Historical Society
They were the petrol stations of their day.
Bills horse troughs were mostly built in the 1930s and were dotted across Victoria and NSW. In total, more than 500 were installed in Australia and overseas. Today they still stand modestly in many of our towns.
The troughs were the legacy of George and Annis Bills, who came to Australia from England in the 1870s. The couple shared a passion for animal welfare. After George’s death in Melbourne in 1927, money from their estate funded the construction and installation of troughs “wherever they are desirable for the relief of horses and other dumb animals”.
The standard design featured a large concrete trough for horses, a small one for dogs, and a chrome drinking fountain for people. However, World War II and the increasing popularity of the motor car brought their production to an end.
In addition to the examples in Trentham, you can see Bills troughs in Kyneton (cnr Piper St and Wedge St), Lancefield (jct Melbourne Rd and High St), Malmsbury (Mollison St), Mt Macedon (cnr Douglas Rd and Mt Macedon Rd) and Woodend (jct High St and Urquhart St).
✍️ Sue Worthington, curator of Trentham & District Historical Society.
📍 Location information: Bills Horse Troughs
📘 Take a Walk Around Trentham: A Guide to the Points of Historical Interest in the Township of Trentham, edited by Ina Bertrand (2006). Available for $5 (plus postage) from Trentham & District Historical Society. A package of the historical society’s publications is available for $55 from Trentham Post Office or via email.
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