Thank you Lorayne, for some unknown reason I missed all your promotional efforts prior to the ABC Science show coverage, sorry. Having lived in the Ballarat area for 20 years and being involved with radio communications since the 60s I did know a bit about Henry Sutton and could not understand why few people in Ballarat or anywhere had heard of him. You have fixed that! What a fabulous effort, you have done a marvellous job of it and your treatment of the technical stuff is fantastic. The organisation of the book is brilliant. The story, though very sad in parts (PMG), brings to life someone whose interest in everything for the benefit of everyone was unequalled. You brought to light many things I knew nothing about, having researched a little in my time, I am staggered you managed to collate so much detail from all over the world. Thankfully some people of note had the respect for Henry that apart for a few was lacking in Australia. My most rewarding read for many years, A fantastic story.
“Henry Sutton: The Innovative Man, Australian Inventor, Scientist and Engineer”, Lorayne Branch, pub 2018, independent. Book launched by Robyn Williams, ABC Science Show, at Federation University in Ballarat, 1.12.18.
A most remarkable man, and in hindsight, a victim of the ubiquitous Australian Tall Poppy Syndrome. Quote from the cover notes: “Henry Sutton’s inventions and contribution to science have been a part of the evolution of many inventions, including the light globe, telephone, battery, television and wireless technology, all of which are now part of our everyday lives”.
To which must be added his vacuum pump, a unique carburettor, early experiments and the
publishing of two papers on his theory of flight, motorised cycles followed by building Australian cars which ran successfully and efficiently on kerosene. All of his inventions were made available to the world, as he felt honour-bound to share them freely so that everyone could benefit. He was internationally recognised, and welcomed into the scientific and engineering peak bodies worldwide.
He put decades of work, and personally funded, highly praised and constant improvements in telegraphy. The world’s navies tested and used everything he produced, and our Defence Department was his champion. He was unfortunately made to waste years of his life because of the short-sightedness of the grand pooh-bah of communication in Australia, the Post Master General. Despite having nothing comparable to offer, the PMG seems to have suffered an excess of professional jealousy, and continued to assert territorial rights over the field. It is a tragedy that this brilliant, modest, generous man died at a relatively young age, and I have no doubt this was brought about by the unforgiveable stress placed upon him in his last years.
Footnote: Shortly before he died in 1912, he even discussed the possibility of electric cars! Such prescience!
Xmas present from Shauna, a signed copy from the author, Henry Sutton’s great granddaughter, to whom we should give much thanks for this biography of a National Treasure.