Resident believes plaque should be erected to commemorate Annis and George Bills

GENEROUS SPIRIT: Two residents plan to approach council about adding a plaque to the horse trough in commemoration of Annis and George Bills. Photo: supplied.
GENEROUS SPIRIT: Two residents plan to approach council about adding a plaque to the horse trough in commemoration of Annis and George Bills. Photo: supplied.

Have you noticed the old horse trough near the Upper Lachlan Shire Council chambers?

It would be easy to miss –  despite its location on the council front lawn.

In 1940, the Crookwell Gazette reported the horse trough was erected due to the generosity of George and Annis Bills.

A bed of flowers now fill the trough, and if you look close enough you can read the inscription: ‘Donated by Annis and George Bills, Australia’. 

In an effort to prevent cruelty towards animals, the couple from Sydney set up a trust and erected close to 500 horse troughs in the 1930s across Australia.

After reading Outback Magazine last year, local man John Medway stumbled across information on horse troughs. 

Along with local researcher Brendan Rutter, the two were surprised to discover Crookwell was one of many locations in Australia where the Bills Trust had extended their donation.

Mr Medway believes more people in the Upper Lachlan should be aware of the philanthropist’s legacy and the two plan to reach out to council with suggestions to add a plaque in commemoration of the couple.

“A lot of people see it but don’t know the story. We want the public to know about it,” Mr Medway said.

About 86,000 pounds was allocated to the trust when Mr Bills died in 1927.

In his will, he stated the money would fund the construction and erection of the troughs.

At the time, local councils were only required to indicate an interest and location for the troughs in their region.

Born in England, Mr Bills’ love for animals took off while he was working with his father and brothers as a bird trader in Echuca, Victoria.

In 1924, Mr Bills was appointed the Life Governor of RSPCA. 

Despite leading a successful mattress business in Sydney, both Annis and George continued to advocate for animal rights. 

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