Masonic apron and satchel, leather / metal / silk, used by Lawrence Hargrave, Australia, 1893-1915
While this apron and satchel represent the rituals of Masonry, which are a mystery to those outside the movement, they were acquired mainly for their assocation with Australian aviation pioneer Lawrence Hargrave. The Museum holds the largest collection of material associated with Hargrave. While the invention of the aeroplane can be attributed to no single individual, Hargrave belonged to an elite body of scientists and researchers (along with Octave Chanute, Otto Lilienthal and Percy Sinclair Pilcher) whose experiments and inventions paved the way for the first powered, controlled flight achieved by the Wright Brothers on 17 December 1903.
Hargrave's greatest contribution to aeronautics was the invention of the box or cellular kite. This kite evolved in four stages from a simple cylinder kite made of heavy paper to a double-celled one capable of lifting Hargrave sixteen feet off the ground. The fourth kite of the series, produced by the end of 1893, provided a stable supporting and structural surface that satisfied the correct area to weight ratio which became the foundation for early European built aircraft. For example, Hargrave's box kite appears to be the inspiration for Alberto Santos Dumont's aircraft named '14bis', which undertook the first powered, controlled flight in Europe in 1906. Similarly, Gabriel Voisin states in his autobiography that he and his brother Charles, who manufactured the first commercially available aircraft in Europe, owe their inspiration to their construction to a Hargrave box kite, while via correspondence with Octave Chanute, there is also evidence for Hargrave's box kite influencing the aircraft used by the Wright Brothers during their historic flight in 1903.
Hargrave's contribution to aeronautics can also be observed in other ways. For example, he conducted important research into animal movement and produced a number of flapping models which successfully demonstrated a means of propulsion. However, the flapping wing models were unable to ascend or lift from ground level with manpower alone. This prompted Hargrave to design and produce alternative power sources including a variety of engines, the most influential being his three cylinder radial rotary engine. This arguably formed the basis of the idea for the famous French Gnome engine, which became the primary source of aircraft power for the French Allies in World War I.
Beyond aviation, Hargrave is also significant for his exploration work in the Torres Strait and New Guinea. In 1876, for example, he joined Luigi d'Albertis' expedition to the Fly River and on completion, was regarded as an expert cartographer who held an unrivalled knowledge of the region. Hargrave also contributed to the study of astronomy with his development of adding machines to assist Sydney Observatory in their calculations. He similarly researched and wrote on Australian history and was an early proponent for the establishment of a bridge across Sydney Harbour.
Adams, M., "Wind Beneath His Wings - Lawrence Hargrave at Stanwell Park" (September 2004)
ADB Online, "Lawrence Hargrave", http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A090194b.htm (Downloaded 18/7/2007)
Grainger, E., "Hargrave and Son - A Biography of John Fletcher Hargrave and his son Lawrence Hargrave" (Brisbane, 1978)
Hudson Shaw, W & Ruhen, O., "Lawrence Hargrave - Explorer, Inventor & Aviation Experimenter" (Sydney, 1977)
Roughley, T.C., "The Aeronautical Work of Lawrence Hargrave" (Technological Museum, Sydney Bulletin No.19, 1939)
This Masonic apron came into the possession of Lawrence Hargrave when he was made a Senior Warden on 24 October 1893. The three rosettes denote Hargrave's rank in the Freemason Society. There were three different types of aprons: one of plain white lamb skin for the Entered Apprentice; one of plain white lamb skin with two sky blue rosettes at the bottom for the Fellow Craft; and a similar one with sky-blue lining and edging, an additional rosette on the flap, and a pair of silver tassels for the Master Mason.
From the latter half of the 19th century, all Masonic aprons were white and sky blue, but this particular one has faded over time. Hargrave used this apron and satchel from 1893 until he died in 1915. His wife then gave them to his good friend, Mr Allan Yeomans, who subsequently donated them to the Museum.
The Masonic Foundation evolved from the guilds of 15th century stonemasons and was officially established in Great Britain in 1717. It was introduced to Australia in 1802, and today there are more than 100,000 members in the country (5,000,000 worldwide).
Lawrence Hargrave was received into Freemasonry on 3 April 1877 and admitted to the Third Degree on 5 June 1877. (There are three degrees: Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason). On 5 September 1878, he was admitted to the Royal Arch Masons of England. He was registered in the books on 22 November 1878 and subscribed on 11 December. Hargrave became a life governor of the Freemasons society on 21 August 1914.
The second of four children of John Fletcher and Ann, Lawrence Hargrave was born at Greenwich, London on 29 January 1850. In 1856, Lawrence's father, eldest brother Ralph and uncle Edward emigrated to Australia in what appears to have been a consensual marital separation between John and Ann. They were bound for Sydney to join John and Edward's brother Richard, who was Member of the Legislative Assembly for New England. Ann, Lawrence and her two other children, Alice and Gilbert, stayed in Kent, England.
During his early years, Lawrence was educated at the Queen Elizabeth's School in Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmoreland, before he sailed to Australia in 1865 to join his father, brother and two uncles. John Fletcher, who was a distinguished judge in the New South Wales Supreme Court and lived at Rushcutters Bay House, anticipated a career for Lawrence in law. Despite tuition, Lawrence failed to matriculate, but he was accepted to begin an apprenticeship with the Australasian Steam Navigation Company (ASN Co) in 1867. For five years he worked as an apprentice, gaining invaluable skills in woodworking, metalworking and design.
The circumnavigation voyage of Australia aboard the Ellesmere (offered to Hargrave by another passenger en route to Australia from London) obviously stimulated Hargrave's interest in exploration. From 1871, he joined the Committee of Management of J.D. Lang's New Guinea Prospecting Association and in 1872 was on board the brig Maria, bound for New Guinea in search of gold, when it sunk off Bramble reef, north Queensland, causing great loss of life. After returning to Sydney to work for the ASN Co, and later the engineers P.N. Russell & Co, Hargrave participated in several more exploratory voyages to the Torres Strait and New Guinea, accompanying William Macleay, Octavius Stone and Luigi d'Albertis along the Fly River. These voyages continued until 1876, at which time Hargrave worked at the foundries of Chapman & Co, before settling down with new wife, Margaret Preston Johnson, in September 1878. The couple produced seven children: Nellie, Hilda, Margaret, Brenda, Olive, Geoffrey and Brenda-Olive.
In January 1879, Hargrave commenced work as an extra observer (astronomical) at Sydney Observatory under the Government astronomer H.C. Russell. In this role, he made a number of important observations and inventions, including the transit of Mercury in 1881, the Krakatoa explosion in 1883 and the design and construction of adding machines. The income made from land bestowed by his father in Coalcliff, however, meant that in 1883 Hargrave was able to resign from his position at the Observatory to pursue his study of artificial flight. This interest came about from his observation of waves and animal motion, including fish, birds and snakes.
Hargrave's earliest experiments, spanning 1884-1892, involved propulsion with monoplane models built from light wood and paper. He first attempted to build a full-size machine capable of carrying a human in 1887, and in 1889 he built his most influential engine, a three cylinder radial rotary. His later experimental phase, 1892-1909, involved the use of curved surfaces in his models. This research led to the development of the box kite, the most famous invention associated with his name.
Hargrave always conducted his experiments in his local area (Rushcutters Bay, Woollahra Point and Stanwell Park). He was against patenting his inventions for fear of stifling the development of aviation and therefore published his results quickly and widely, particularly through the Royal Society of New South Wales. This Society helped Hargrave gain an international reputation and brought him into contact with other aviation pioneers like Octave Chanute and Otto Lilienthal. The very first paper he gave was "The Trochoided Plane" (delivered 6 August 1884).
In Hargrave's later years he conducted research into early Australian history, postulating the theory that two Spanish ships found their way into Sydney Harbour in the late 16th century. Apart from this and his interest in aeronautics, he also concerned himself with the contemporary issues of patent laws, free competition, Darwinism, a bridge for Sydney Harbour, pensions, strikes and conscription.
Lawrence Hargrave died of peritonitis at Lister Hospital on 6 July 1915. His death came only nine weeks after the death of his son, Geoffrey, at Gallipoli.