A Hills Hoist is an inexpensive rotary clothes line developed and marketed by Australian, Lance Hill in 1945. The Hills clothes hoist by became a symbol of Australian home life in the 1950s. However it was Gilbert Toyne who invent the rotary clothes hoist which was first patented (Click here to see the original patent application) by him in Adelaide in 1926. Toyne sold these hoists in small numbers until the early 1960s. Lance Hill finally patented his rotary clothes line on March 22, 1956.

In 1945 Lance Hill returned to Adelaide from war. His wife complained that her traditional clothesline which was a line propped up in the middle by a stick between two posts was in the way of the lemon tree. Her husband, unemployed at the time, solved this problem by designing a compact rotary line out of metal tube and wire.Hils hoist in a backyard

His first batch of hoists was made with tubing salvaged from the underwater boom that had hung under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to catch enemy submarines during World War II. He designed an aluminium winding gear to hoist the line up.

Toyne may have invented the rotary hoist, but it was Hill’s entrepreneurial flair and the huge boom in house-building after World War II that made his design for drying clothes into an icon of suburbia.

Further reading

Transcript from ABC program GNT on the hoist

List of Australian Inventions