Gallagher, Alfred (Bill)


Bill Gallagher loved to tinker with all things mechanical. Born into a Waikato dairy farming family, one of his first projects was the design and creation of a rotary engine which pumped water to the cowshed. He later converted the old family car into a ute, and completed a top dressing job in a few days when neighbours were taking a month.

But it is the original Gallagher electric fence for which he is perhaps best known.  In the early 1930s, Bill and his brother Henry were working in the shed when a horse wandered in and brushed up against their car. Bill connected his motorcycles magneto to a triggering device, which electrified the car and gave the horse a shock. The horse quickly learnt to leave the car alone.

Bill went on to sell his first electric fence in 1937. It was a cheap, practical alternative to standard post, wire and batten fencing and it revolutionised the farming industry. Today the Gallagher Group is a world leader in not only animal fencing - including everything from sheep and cattle to rhinos and elephants - but also security fencing and electronic identification systems.

Boating and boatbuilding was another of Bill's passions, and he regularly sailed on hospitality trips for the Boys Brigade and hosted several church mission voyages to the Pacific islands.

Retirement in the 1980s did not stop Bill Gallaghers ingenuity. In his early 70s, he invented a hoist for transferring hospital patients between bed, bath and wheelchair. He also repaired wheelchairs, redesigned the boiler system and installed emergency lighting at Assisi Home and Hospital in Matangi.