The Hill's Hoist 


Lance Hill was a motor mechanic and he made the first Hill's Hoist for his wife whose washing kept falling off the prop washing line. The year was 1945. The place was Adelaide, South Australia.

His line was a single steel pole with metal ribs spreading out from the centre pole.  Between the ribs he strung rust-proof wire from which the clothes would hang. The clothes could be raised high to dry in the wind.The line was so successful that soon all the Hill's neighbours wanted one too. Lance Hill was happy to build them.

Lance Hill is in the centre. His brother-in-law, Harold Ling is on the left.The man on the right is a worker, Jack Short

Lance Hill is in the centre. His brother-in-law, Harold Ling is on the left.The man on the right is a worker, Jack Short

At first he built them in his backyard workshop using scrap metal.

In 1946, Hill and his brother-in-law opened a factory making Hill's Rotary Clothes Hoist. Later the clothes hoists became known as Hills Hoists and their clothes lines are still being sold in Australia and around the world.

Millions of Hill's Hoists have been sold, and became such a feature of suburban backyards that they are now recognised as an Australian 'cultural icon' - something that identifies as a feature of our culture. They have even featured on postage stamps and in the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Was it the first rotary clothes line in Australia?

No! Other rotary clothes lines had been designed and built before 1946.

Gilbert Toyne (1888 - 1983) invented and patented (read about patents below) four rotary clothes hoist designs in Australia. One of his designs was used to build a rotary clothes line by the Aeroplane Clothes Hoist Company.

By the early 1920s, Toyne's Rotary Clothes Hoists were being manufactured and advertised in Australia about 30 years before the first 'Hills Hoist'.

So, the Lance Hill’s clothes line was not the first of its kind. Lance Hill did not invent the rotary clothes hoist, but his design for the Hills Hoist became a symbol of Australian home life in the 1950s.

What is a Patent?

If a person has a good idea for an invention, they can apply for a patent for it, as long as the idea is new. Once the government gives them a patent, no one else can copy the idea, design, pattern or object and make money from it. A patent lasts for about 15 years, depending on the product.