NotesThe governess cart was a birthday present from Mr Ernest Hillier, the well-known confectioner, to his wife, May.
Ernest Hillier was born in England and educated at a private school. He travelled the world during the first decade of the twentieth century and while in Australia met his wife Magdalen May (May) at a dance at the Petersham Town Hall. Ernest went on to San Francisco and learnt the confectionary and soda fountain trade there. He sent for May and her mother as chaperone and they were married in Vancouver, Canada and lived in San Francisco for 3 or 4 years. The Hilliers moved back to Sydney in 1912 and lived in May's family's home 'Osneath' cnr Young & Gibb Street, Croydon, which they eventually purchased.
Ernest Hillier built up a large confectionary business in Sydney with a factory at Bourke Street, Woolloomooloo. It was a single level building and said to be one of the first refrigerated factories in Australia. Hillier had difficulties sending his chocolates to Melbourne as they would melt in transit. He eventually had 20 confectionary shops, the main outlet being at 162 Pitt Street, a building of 4 levels which still survives in the Pitt Street Mall and which was sold in the 1940s.
Ernest Hillier ordered the governess cart from the coach building firm of Angus and Son in 1918 as a 34th birthday present for his wife, May, who had been born on 13 June 1884. It was used for shopping to take May and her two young children, Lucille Miriam, aged 2 born in 1916 and Rob Hillier born in 1913, aged 5. It would have been an ideal vehicle to carry young children.
In the 1920s the Hilliers moved to a waterfront property in Vaucluse, but during the Great Depression the business declined. The market fell out of the Sydney quality chocolate trade, and Ernest closed his shop. In 1938 he moved his business to Melbourne and established a shop in Collins Street. He found that Melbourne people were more affluent at this time and it was a better market.
In the meantime the governess cart was taken down to the Hilliers' country retreat, a shingle-roofed polo cottage, called 'Gwandalan', at Riverside Ave, Burradoo, 3.6 km south of Bowral (off the main road near Chevalier School). It was used there during the Second World War, especially after 1940 when petrol rationing was brought in. The governess cart remained in the family and was used by Lucille Hillier, who in 1942 married Broughton (Bill) Throsby.
The governess cart was moved from Burradoo to Mt Ashby, Bowral, in the 1950s. At the inaugural Bong Bong picnic races Lucille Throsby won best horse-drawn vehicle.
The governess cart was originally upholstered in green cord felt, with cushions, and was restored in the 1960s.
OwnedHillier, May 1918-1950