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Hills Hoist

The Hills Hoist was developed in a backyard in Glenunga, Adelaide, by Lance Hill in 1945. It is a rotary clothesline that can be raised and lowered by a winding mechanism. This feature, in addition to the rotating square frame, allows the washing to dry more effectively in the breeze. The Hills Hoist also makes the most of limited space in suburban backyards.

Hill's original clotheslines were made from scrap metal. By 1946 the clothesline had proven to be a huge hit with friends and family, so Hill and his brother-in-law, Harold Ling, established a business, Hills, to keep up with the demand. They purchased surplus army trucks to make deliveries and a plant to manufacture the metal tubing from which the frame of the clothesline is made. By 1948 Hills had expanded its operation to include the manufacture of other laundry products. In 1959 the company offered a hoist as a gift to the Queen and Queen Mother, but Australia's Governor-General, Field Marshal Sir William Joseph Slim, did not think the offer suitable to pass on to the Palace.

Hills Industries celebrated the sale of the five millionth Hills Hoist in 1994 and now exports the clothes line around the world. The Hills Hoist has become an Australian cultural icon and was featured as the emblem of the 1996 Adelaide Festival of Arts and in the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

Even though the Hills Hoist was the most successful, it was not the first rotary clothes hoist to be produced. Gilbert Toyne had patented four significant designs for rotary clothes hoists between 1911 and 1946. In fact Toyne was living and manufacturing his rotary clothes hoists several streets away from Lance Hill's Glenunga home in 1926. By the 1930s the Toyne rotary clothes hoist was available for purchase across Australia and New Zealand, with manufacturing bases established in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. For further information about Gilbert Toyne and his business see further reading below.

Further reading:

Harris, David. What a line!: the story of the people who made the hoist an Australian icon: fifty years of Hills, Melrose Park, SA: Hills Printing Services, 1996

Cuffley, Peter and Middlemis, Cas. Hung out to dry : Gilbert Toyne's classic Australian clothes hoist, Netherby, SA: Cas Middlemis, 2009

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First Hills hoist order book
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Garden of a Housing Trust home.
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Hanging out the washing during the floods
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Hill's hoist in the desert
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