Whitley Pump correspondent and Katesgrove resident Evelyn Williams sends a postcard from Australia that, as postcards do, arrived in Reading after she did.
I had never heard of, or as far as I can remember, seen a Bills Water Trough before I found this one in Broadford, Victoria. The dedication above the trough says ‘Donated by – Annis & George Bills – Australia’, and when I investigated I discovered that there were over 700 of these. Most of the troughs are in Australia, but there is one in Reading.
The Reading horse trough is on Park Lane, Tilehurst near the water tower. On the pavement side of the trough are the words ‘Annis & George Bills – Australia’, and on the road side the more familiar ‘Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association’.
Annis and George Bills met and married in Australia in the late nineteenth century. Annis was originally from Sheffield and George from Brighton. The couple were concerned for animal welfare and on a visit back to England donated money to the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association for six troughs.
When George died in 1927 a trust fund was set up, one of the purposes of which was to erect horse troughs. The first troughs were individually designed, but later they were standardised and it is one of these that remains in Broadford. Production of the troughs stopped by the end of the Second World War, as motorised transport took over from horse drawn vehicles.