POWERHOUSE MUSEUM ARCHIVES GUIDE TO THE ... America. (The Technological Museum - now Powerhouse...

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Transcript of POWERHOUSE MUSEUM ARCHIVES GUIDE TO THE ... America. (The Technological Museum - now Powerhouse...




    H E L E N YOX A L L


  • CONTENTS Biographical Note 3 Provenance Note 6 Series List 7 Series Descriptions and Item Lists 8



    Hargrave, Lawrence

    Registration Number:


    Lawrence Hargrave (1850-1915) was born at Greenwich, England on 29 January 1850, the second son of

    John Fletcher Hargrave, a barrister, and his wife Ann. In 1856 J.F.Hargrave, his brother Edward and

    his eldest son Ralph emigrated to Australia. Mrs Hargrave moved with the three younger children,

    Lawrence, Alice and Gilbert to Keston, Kent. Lawrence attended Queen Elizabeth's School at Kirkby

    Lonsdale, Westmoreland.

    In 1865 Hargrave sailed for Australia and joined his father (now a judge in the NSW Supreme Court) at

    Rushcutters Bay House. A tutor was employed to prepare Lawrence for university entrance and a

    career in law. In 1866 he made a six month voyage with Abraham Hamilton Thomson in the clipper

    barque Ellesmere to the Albert River, Gulf of Carpentaria, circumnavigating Australia before returning


    Failing his matriculation, Hargrave was apprenticed in 1867 to the drawing office and engineering

    workshops of the Australasian Steam Navigation Company where he spent five years. Here he learnt to

    design and became familiar with working with wood and metals.

    In 1871 Hargrave became one of the Committee of Management of J.D. Lang's New Guinea Prospecting

    Association and in 1872 joined the Association's gold prospecting expedition in the brig Maria.

    Hargrave was amongst the survivors when the ship struck Bramble Reef near Hinchinbrook Island and

    sank with many lives lost. He returned to work for the Australasian Steam Navigation Company and

    later worked for engineers P.N. Russell & Co.

    From 1874 to 1876 Hargrave made several voyages to the Torres Strait and New Guinea. First he

    sailed to the Torres Strait in the barque Burton Strather in 1874 to gather information for a further

    expedition to New Guinea. In May 1875 he joined naturalist (Sir) William Macleay's Chevert expedition

    to New Guinea as marine engineer. He left the Chevert after 5 months to accompany the geologist

    Octavius C. Stone in the Ellengowan on his expedition which spent three months exploring around Port

    Moresby, often in the company of the Reverend William George Lawes, whose family were the first

    permanent European residents of Papua.

    Hargrave returned to Sydney in February 1876 but soon took up the position of ship's engineer with the

    expedition to the Fly River led by the Italian naturalist Luigi D'Albertis in the steam launch Neva.

    Hargrave's diaries and accounts of this voyage reveal his poor opinion of his leader's navigational skills

    and his uneasiness concerning the methods D'Albertis used to collect artifacts from the local peoples.

    Hargrave took a great interest in New Guinea exploration for many years. He sought to alert the

    scientific world to the inaccuracies of D'Albertis's chart of the Fly River. (Hargrave's own chart is in his

    papers at 94/23/1 - 5.) He was a member of the Geographical Society of Australasia's exploratory

    committee and prepared draft instructions for the Society's New Guinea Exploration Expedition under

    Captain H.C. Everill in 1885.

    Returning to Sydney, Hargrave worked for a time in the foundries of Chapman & Co.

    On 7 September 1878 Hargrave married Margaret Preston Johnston. The couple had seven children -

    Helen Anne Gray (1879-1966), Hilda Waller (1883-), Margaret Hudson (1889-), Brenda (1890-1891),

    Geoffrey (1892-1915) and [Brenda] Olive Blackman (1893-1967).

    From January 1879 he worked as extra observer (astronomical) at Sydney Observatory under the

    Government Astronomer H.C. Russell. He observed the transit of Mercury in 1881, made observations

    of the Krakatoa eruption in 1883, assisted Russell to measure double stars and designed and built

    adding machines to help in their calculations. On leaving the Observatory in 1883 he remained friends

  • 94/23/1

    Hargrave, Lawrence

    Registration Number:


    with Russell and often corresponded with him about his aeronautical experiments.

    Hargrave's income from land at Coalcliff enabled him to give up paid employment in 1883 and devote

    his time to experiments. These he conducted at the house he built at 40 Roslyn Gardens, Rushcutters

    Bay and, from 1893 to 1899 at "Hillcrest", Stanwell Park, the house he had inherited from his brother


    Hargrave became a member of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1877 and between 1884 and

    1909 presented 24 papers to the Society. Reprints of his papers were sent to fellow experimenters

    throughout the world and they were largely responsible for the dissemination of Hargrave's ideas.

    In his first paper to the Royal Society, "The trochoided plane", 6 August 1884, he expounded his

    trochoided theory of serpentine propulsion based on his observations on waves and the movements of

    snakes, fish and birds.

    Hargrave's early experiments were with the means of propulsion. His early models, built between 1884

    and 1892, were monoplanes constructed of a framework of light wood and tissue paper and powered

    initially by clockwork, then by rubber bands, compressed air and steam, with their thrust being

    obtained from flapping wings.

    In June 1887 he constructed a full-size machine on wheels designed to ascertain the weight of a

    machine strong enough to support a man. Propulsion was to be obtained by means of flapping wings

    operated by a handle. The experiment was not successful.

    From 1888 Hargrave constructed engines powered by petrol and compressed air. His first steam engine

    was built in 1888, though this was not a success. His most successful engine was constructed the

    following year - the three cylinder radial rotary engine. This engine type was later used in early

    aeroplane engines constructed in Europe, notably the French "Gnome".

    From 1893 Hargrave began to investigate the behaviour of curved surfaces in a wind. This work was to

    be Hargrave's great contribution to the advancement of flight. It led to the invention of the box or

    cellular kite, which gave greater lift and stability and less drag than monoplanes. His famous

    weight-lift experiment occurred on 12 November 1894 when he lifted himself from the beach at Stanwell

    Park by means of four kites attached to one rope. Hargrave's box kites were used as the supporting

    surfaces for the first generation of European built aircraft.

    Hargrave continued to design and build engines to power full size flying machines, but was hampered

    by the lack of engineering skill in Sydney, by shortage of money and his isolation from other workers in

    the field. He built at least 35 engines and designed a further twenty.

    Two principles that guided his work were that the results should be published immediately in order to

    help other experimenters and advance the field of aeronautics. Patent laws were an anathema to him.

    The other was that flying machines were a way of bringing humanity together and he spoke out for the

    peaceful use of aircraft.

    Hargrave took his family to England in February 1899 intending to settle, but the living expenses and

    lack of interest in his work forced him back to Australia in six months. The family now occupied 44

    Roslyn Gardens and from 1902 a house at end of Wunulla Road, Point Piper, from where he conducted

    flight trials on water.

    From 1901 Hargrave attempted to find a home for his experimental models in Australia, England and

    America. (The Technological Museum - now Powerhouse Museum - had acquired some earlier models

    from Hargrave in 1891.) He finally gave them to the Deutsches Museum, Munich in 1909. As a token

    of gratitude, he was awarded the Cross of Honour of the Royal Order of Merit of Saint Michael by

    Luitpolt Prince Regent of Bavaria, but Hargrave could not obtain permission from King George V to

    wear this decoration.

  • 94/23/1

    Hargrave, Lawrence

    Registration Number:


    Hargrave was interested in many issues beyond aeronautics and wrote frequent letters to the editor on

    patent laws, free competition, Darwinism, pensions, a bridge for Sydney harbour, strikes, conscription,


    In his later years Hargrave researched the early exploration of Australia and was convinced that two

    Spanish ships, the Santa Ysabel and Santa Barbara under the command of Lope de Vega found their

    way to Sydney in 1595 and stayed until 1600. The manuscript of his book Lope de Vega is now in the

    National Library of Australia (a copy is held by the Museum at P2903-4/3).

    Hargrave's only son, Geoffrey, was killed at Gallipoli in May 1915. Hargrave died on 14 July 1915

    following an operation for appendicitis and was buried in Waverley Cemetery (Grave 1117, Section

    Ordinary, Denomination General). He was survived by his wife and four daughters. M