When the hippopotamus called Hubert, and later Huberta when it’s sex was determined, embarked on her journey from St Lucia to deep into the Eastern Cape in die 1920s, who would have thought that her memory would still live on today in the form of a hammer mill called Hippo.

The association at the time, relates founder Arthur Collins’ grandchild, Judith Simpson, was that munching mouth of the hippo that could devour anything, not unlike the Hippo hammermill that grinds up grain with ease.

The story of Huberta the hippo was conjoured up again recently when Hippo Mills, these days a division of ABC Hansen, celebrated its 90th anniversary at the Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg. It was also at the Royal that Arthur Collins exibited a Hippo hammer mill for the first time in 1928.

The role-players in the delightful story of the 90th anniversary celebrations of Hippo Mills: From the left are Clynt Walker (owner between 1985 and 2008), Christopher Chilenjeh (winner of the Baby Hippo), Judith Simpson (granddaughter of Arthur Collins), Lee Clayton (granddaughter), Vena Gray (granddaughter), Marion van Niekerk (marketing manager of ABC Hansen) and Mario van Niekerk (CEO of ABC Hansen).
Basic design remained

Present at the celebrations where the three granddaughters of Arthur, Judith Simpson, Lee Clayton and Vena Gray, as well as Judith’s daughter Penny McKenna and granddaughter Meg, together with the next owner of Hippo, Clynt Walker, whose father Duncan bought the company from Arthur’s son Frank in 1985. The Walkers, in 2008, sold to ABC Hansen, who, under management of Mario van Niekerk, is intensely aware of the merit of the tradition and values instilled by the Collins’ 90 years ago.

The three granddaughters were each handed a replica of the original cast of the first Hippo Mill. Here are Lee, Judith and Vena with Marion van Niekerk.

Remarkably, he stressed, the basic design of the Hippo has not changed at all over the years, bearing testimony to the brilliance of the original designer, Arthur Collins, who saw the future of agriculture in mechanisation at a time when the motor car was not even a common sight in the country.

As part of the 90 year celebrations, Van Niekerk invited owners of Hippo hammer mills to tell their stories of how a Hippo mill changed their life for the better and stand a chance of winning a brand new Baby Hippo, to be donated to an organisation or community of their choice.

The winner, who was announced during the celebration, was Christopher Chilenjeh, who donated the Baby Hippo to his brother in Malawi, Luke Chilenjeh, to mill the grain for their community who has to cross a flooding river to get their grain milled otherwise.

ABC Hansen marketing manager Marion van Niekerk hands over the Baby Hippo to Luke Chilenjeh, while his elder brother Christopher looks on proudly.

Here’s to the next 90 years for Hippo Mills! – Izak Hofmeyr, AgriOrbit


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