In July 1927, Mrs Agnes Chambers, applied to Auckland City Council for permission to erect a granite drinking trough for animals in the vicinity of the City Markets on Sturdee Street, in memory of Henry Alder. This was granted by the Council at their meeting in July, and the City Engineer was instructed to determine the site for the trough. By 10 August 1927, the City engineer wrote to Mrs Chambers, advising that the site had been selected.
This is likely to have been the last purpose-built horse trough in the central city area. By 1927, horse drawn traffic was on the wane, replaced by motorised transport. After World War II, the troughs that had once dotted the city began to disappear. The horse trough constructed for Mrs Chambers is the only remaining one.
Henry Alder had accepted the position for the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1900, and from that point on gave over 10,000 cautions to drivers and others in charge of animals, and secured convictions for cruelty in court. Agnes Catherine Isabella Oceania Chambers, wife of noted surveyor and civil engineer Preston Chambers (1854-1936), was a member of the Society for the Protection of Women and Children for over 40 years, and president at one time. As her society and that of the SPCA appear to have been a united organisation in Auckland until 1927, Mrs. Chambers perhaps put forward the proposal for the horse-trough on behalf of the combined organisation. After 1927, the period when the trough was constructed, the two organisations were split.
Agnes Chambers arrived in Auckland in 1904 to marry Preston Chambers, and became actively involved in social welfare work from that point on. In 1906 she was a foundation member of the Flying Angel Missions to Seamen in Auckland, and served on the board of management. She formed the Harbour Lights Guild in 1928, part of the Flying Angel Mission, and became the first president, remaining in that office until her death.
During World War I, Mrs Chambers organised the Blue Cross Fund, raising considerable sums of money for the purpose of alleviating the suffering of animals wounded in the war. She was one of the convenors of the Mayoress War Memorial Library League during World War II, as well as a supporter of St Georges Anglican Church in Ranfurly Road.
The horse trough memorial therefore has associations with Aucklands former reliance on horse-drawn transport, as well as the early history of social welfare movements in Auckland, namely the combined SPCA (through the memorial plaque to Henry Alder) and the Society of the Protection of Women and Children (Mrs. Agnes Chambers). It is also apt, considering Mrs Chambers associations with maritime workers welfare, that the trough was positioned so close to the wharves.