Ship model, schooner, wood, made by Geoffrey Hargrave, Woollahra Point, New South Wales, Australia, c.1910
The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences holds the largest collection of material internationally of the aviation pioneer, Lawrence Hargrave. While no single individual can be attributed to the invention of the aeroplane, 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 December 17, 1903.
This particular ship model is significant because of its association with Lawrence Hargrave. It was produced by his only son, Geoffrey, and reflects the many inherited skills he acquired from his father including an inquisitive and scientific mind, manual dexterity and innovativeness. The model also serves as an example of Hargrave's family life, especially with the affectionate naming of the ship 'HILDA'.
Lawrence 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. He also designed and produced alternative power sources including a variety of engines. Beyond aviation, Hargrave undertook exploration work in the Torres Strait and New Guinea and assisted in the discovery voyage of the Fly River with Luigi d'Albertis. He also contributed to the study of astronomy with his development of adding machines to assist Sydney Observatory in their calculations, 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 ship model was produced by Geoffrey Hargrave at Woollahra Point, New South Wales, Australia, c.1910. Geoffrey most likely produced this model during his leisure time using wood, which he painted two-tone green and red. There are remains of rope, which indicates the model was once fully rigged, with two holes in the deck for the masts. The name 'HILDA' is written on one side of the hull, presumably after Geoffrey's older sister and the poop deck (which is unusually rounded and cumbersome looking) is secured in place by iron nails. The model is crudely finished.
Geoffrey Hargrave was the only son of Lawrence and Margaret Hargrave, born March 21, 1892. Like his father, he took an interest in inventions and was encouraged to pursue studies in engineering, which he did at the Sydney Technical College during his late teenage years.
Geoffrey showed particular prowess in maritime technologies and sailing, as well as aeronautics and designed and constructed a number of models including the No 36 radial rotary engine. During Geoffrey's teenage years, Lawrence made a number of maritime vessels for him, sometimes as a reward for his hard work at college. One of these was an eighteen-foot sailing craft made from tinned sheet steel. It took Lawrence 3 months to build (or 495 hours). The hull weighed 300 lbs and the vessel carried lugsails on three masts. However, records suggest Geoffrey was not completely impressed by it, which might have prompted him to make ship models of his own.
Soon after the outbreak of WWI, Geoffrey was enlisted to the army in a mounted unit, but later transferred to the infantry as a machine gunner. At the beginning of 1915 he sailed for Egypt with the 2nd Australian Expeditionary Force (under the nickname 'Stirrups'), but was transferred again to the Dardanelles in the same year. It was here that Geoffrey was killed in action on May 25, 1915.
This particular model was donated to the Museum by Geoffrey's oldest sister, Mrs Helen Gray in 1963.