Friday, 26 February 2010

Bills Troughs in Casey Cardinia

You may have seen some Bills Troughs, on your travels throughout Australia and overseas. They were funded from a bequest from the will of George Bills, who died on December 14, 1927. His will left various bequests to friends and employees but the bulk of his Estate was to be made available by his Executors to Societies for the protection of animals, such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and for the construction of horse troughs for the relief of horses or other ‘dumb animals’. These troughs were to be inscribed with the names of George and his wife Annis.

Who were George and Annis Bills? An article by Tim Gibson, Donated by Annis and George Bills - Australia: their concrete horse trough legacy published in the Gippsland Heritage Journal (see full citation at the bottom of this post) tells us that George was one of fourteen children and was born in Brighton in England on March 11, 1859. The family emigrated to New Zealand in 1869 and moved to Victoria in 1873. In 1880 George, and his brother Henry, commenced a wire working business in Sydney. Other brothers, Richard and Walter, later joined the business. Walter had invented a wire coiler and this led the Company into the manufacture of wire mattresses. The business became known as Bills Brothers. Various of the brothers operated factories in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane at one time. George married Annis Elizabeth Swann (b.1860) on May 18, 1885 at the Brisbane Registry Office. In 1910 the couple went on a trip to England where Annis died. They had no children.

The Bills troughs, for both horses and dogs, in High Street Bunyip. The terracotta roof in the background belongs to the Post Office, which was opened on December 8, 1925

George and his brother Henry had been supporters of the Victorian Society for the Protection of Animals as the RSPCA was then called and this devotion to the cause of animal welfare was continued after George’s death, through his Will. His Estate was administered by his sister, Daisy and her husband, William Crook. Tim Gibson, in his article cited above, says that the first troughs were individually designed and constructed, however in the early 1930s Jack Phillips became the contractor and had a standard design of pre-cast concrete, which were manufactured in Auburn Road in Hawthorn. Rocla then took over the manufacture of the troughs around 1937. Also in 1937 the last trough was supplied to a Victorian location and erected in Buckley Street in Essendon. After that, the distribution of the troughs moved to New South Wales and finished at the end of the Second World War. All up, around 700 troughs were donated to towns in Australia, around 400 of those in Victoria and fifty overseas.

Report in The Argus on the last Bills trough erected in Victoria
The Argus November 27, 1937

In the Casey Cardinia area the only ones I know of are at Koo-Wee-Rup at the Historical Society in Rossiter Road, and you can see both the horse trough and the dog trough at Tooradin, outside the Fisherman’s Cottage Museum on the Foreshore. The two troughs can also be seen in Bunyip in High Street. There is also one at Akoonah Park in Berwick.

The Koo-Wee-Rup Bills trough at it's relocated position at the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society. In the background is the Lock-up built in the 1920s, which was originally located at the Police Station in Sybella Avenue and moved to the Historical Society in 1993.

I came across an article in the Koo-Wee-Rup Sun of February 2, 1933 and it tells us that the trough in Koo-Wee-Rup was originally erected near the Royal Hotel in Station Street. The same article tell us that troughs have also been erected at Narre Warren, Pakenham, Garfield and Bunyip.
Koo-Wee-Rup Sun of February 2, 1933

So this raises a number of questions – what happened to the Narre Warren and Pakenham troughs? Where were they originally located? I believe the Garfield one was outside the Iona Hotel in Main Street but where has it gone? Where was the Bunyip trough originally located? The Tooradin trough was apparently outside the Store and Post Office along the South Gippsland highway. I’d love to know if you have any answers to these questions. The Bills troughs are a lovely reminder of a by-gone day, when horses ruled the road and also a practical memorial to George & Annis Bills' community spirit and love of animals.

The Tooradin trough, located outside the Fishermans Cottage Museum on the Foreshore.

The article I referred to from the Gippsland Heritage Journal is Donated by Annis & George Bills - Australia : their concrete horse trough legacy by Tim Gibson. Published in Gippsland Heritage Journal No.20, September 1996.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Narre Warren and Fountain Gate Estate

In the last post we looked at some of the early housing sub-divisions in Narre Warren, and in the aerial photographs we saw Brechin, which was located on the site of the current Fountain Gate Shopping Centre . Brechin was built in 1937 for John Lloyd (1906-1984). His uncle, Charles Duplan Lloyd (1863-1937) had purchased the Holly Green property in 1924, from the Webb Family, and had moved his Glen Iris jersey cattle stud from Glen Iris to Holly Green. When John inherited the property he changed the name to Brechin.

A contemporary report on Brechin. Our Archive has an original of the article, but unfortunatley, there is no indication which paper if was from.

John Lloyd was one of the foundation members of the Narre Warren Fire Brigade and a member of other Narre Warren organizations such as the Hall Committee, Progress Association and he was also involved in many other Community organisations. The Brechin house was described as being of 'American Californian mission architecture'. It was demolished around 1990, though parts of the garden, including some of the magnificent trees you can see in the photograph below, still remain. The garden is on Brechin Drive, off Overland Drive in Narre Warren.

An aerial of Brechin, taken in the 1980s. Below is a close-up of the lavender hedge leading to what looks like a sun dial or bird bath.

The Fountain Gate housing estate, in Narre Warren, was developed by Isador Magid in the mid 1960s. He employed Robin Boyd to create the Estate on Radburn principles, which involved separating pedestrians and vehicles by providing short cul-de-sac entries and internal spines of open space. Prominent architects were also employed to design Protoype houses. The Fountain Estate is bounded by Tinks Road, Sweet Gum Avenue, Prospect Hill Road and Dawn Avenue and is listed in the City of Casey Heritage Scheme as being of local significance and possibly State significance and an innovative and imaginative housing development. Some individual houses also have Heritage listing. The fountain at the entrance to the Estate, was designed by Robin Boyd, and also has Heritage Listing.

This is a close-up of the January 1972 aerial, which was in the last blog post, showing the Fountain Gate Estate. Below is the map of the Fountain Gate Estate precinct which has Heritage listing.

This map and much of the information on the Fountain Gate Estate comes from the City of Berwick Heritage Conservation Study, 1993, prepared by Context Pty Ltd.

Isador Magid and his Overland Construction Corporation donated land to the City of Berwick for their Municipal Offices and for park land, and also built the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. This was very innovative at the time, as it was a new planning concept to combine housing with a Civic Centre and a major shopping centre. Fountain Gate Shopping Centre was opened on March 11, 1980 by the Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Winneke, which makes it thirty years old.

Narre Warren News , Issue 2, Volume 8 1980.

This is the report from the Narre Warren News, the community newsletter, from Issue 2, Volume 8 1980. Fountain Gate Shopping Centre obviously did have 'the attractions and competitive shopping' to succeed as it has expanded on a number of occasions since opening.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Narre Warren - the growth of a suburb

Narre Warren's origins as a country town have now been largely obscured by housing developments and suburbanisation, so I was interested to come across these land sale advertisements in the Pakenham Gazette. They are from 1959. We have the Pakenham Gazette and it's predecessor, the Berwick Shire News, from 1909 to 1965 on DVD at Cranbourne, Emerald, Narre Warren and Pakenham Libraries.

Pakenham Gazette, December 11 1959 page 9

Pakenham Gazette, October 2 1959, page 7

An aerial view of Narre Warren taken December 1963 (click on image to enlarge it)

We have a great collection of aerial photographs in the Archive, and this one is of Narre Warren. The oval is the old Narre Warren Recreation Reserve, on the corner of the Princes Highway and Narre Warren North Road. If we follow the Princes Highway, towards the top left of the photo we come to the future site of the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre. The house surrounded by trees is Brechin, which was built on the site of Holly Green, formerly owned by Sidney Webb. There will be more about Brechin in the next blog post. You can see Webb Street, crossing the Princes Highway and intersecting with Narre Warren North Road. South of the highway (on the west side of Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road) is the start of the subdivision which includes Western Way, Meadow Wood Walk and Valley Fair Drive. On the other side of Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road you can see the sub-division which includes Stewart Avenue, Moran Street and Sweeney Drive.

We are lucky enough to have original copies of the Community newsletter, Narre Warren News, in our Archive. We have the second issue (the banner is reproduced above) from October 1971 and various issues to 1980. They include local events , news from Community Groups such the Progress Association, Sporting Clubs, Fire Brigade and Kindergarten. Each issue also included some history of the area and Council news.

One of the most interesting features of these Newsletters is the 'New Residents' column. It certainly harks back to a time when privacy wasn't an issue and when, even though Narre Warren was expanding, it still had a small town community feel. This list comes from Issue 3, Volume 1, 1971. You could probably identify some of the houses these residents moved into from the 1972 aerial below. I wonder if any of these people still live at the same address?

An aerial view of Narre Warren taken January 1972 (click on image to enlarge it)

You will see there are many more houses in the sub-division which includes Western Way, Meadow Wood Walk and Valley Fair Drive, though given the Estate was established in 1963, there are not as many houses as I would have expected. On the north of the Princes Highway is the start of the Fountain Gate Estate, and there will be more on this in the next blog post.