||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I 1788 - State Of The Art In Textile Technology
II Australian Textiles - The Early Days
III Australian Textiles - The 20th Century
i Technology and Development
ii Australian Wool Textile Research
IV Australian Textiles - To Date
Technology and Development (continued)Nevertheless, as would be expected, major progress continued to come from machine manufacturers in Europe and the U.S.A. They were well established, with large home markets for their products, and they had a strong infrastructure of appropriate education and research and development in the many universities and colleges covering textile science and engineering which had been established through the latter half of the 19th and early part of the 20th Centuries.
Although textile courses (particularly the craft of dyeing) had been offered by the forerunner of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology since the 1890s, there was little advanced textile science or even trade education in Australia. As A. E. Barber, Professor of Textile Industries in the Technical College, Bradford, and at the University of Leeds, said in 1920,
It costs a great deal of money to undertake a thorough course of study at Leeds University;
It was twenty-five years before the first textile technical training was made available by the establishment within the Gordon Institute, Geelong, of a textile college as an adjunct to its wool school which had been established at the end of the 19th century to provide functional education in wool classing.
The object of the college was to include 'the training of expert technologists and technical managerial staff, designers and merchants; the provision of postgraduate courses for specialists trained in diverse disciplines such as chemists, engineers and others to provide a textile bias to supplement their original training'. Short-term courses were to be provided for members of mill staff and apprenticeship training for those in employment in the industry. Finally, the college was to provide the facilities for textile testing and for scientific investigation addressing short-term problems of the manufacturing industry.
The College went on to provide many top-class textile technologists, before its closure shortly after its incorporation into the Deakin University in the 1970s. Many of these graduates are still serving the textile industry, in both senior technical and senior management positions.
As far as formalised research was concerned, while in the 1930s Australian wool-growers had been funding some wool research in the U.K. at the Wool Industries Research Association (WIRA), Leeds, there was no formalised wool-textile research in Australia until the late 1930s. CSIR had been formed in 1923, but its orientation up till the Second World War had been completely towards the problems of primary industry. Wool research had been done in Australia, but only in relation to fibre growth and structure.
A man who subsequently had very significant impact on wool textile research was at this time joining the industry -Dr. M. Lipson. As he recounts
My entry into wool textile research began in 1935 when I was appointed as chemist with F. W. Hughes Pty. Ltd., after graduation from Sydney University. This was a large traditionally operated vertical mill. At the time, science had made little impact on the textile industry in Australia, although one or two mills employed chemists mainly on process control. One of my first assignments was to find a method for shrink-proofing hand-knitting yarns of which they were a major producer. Research had been carried out overseas, particularly in Britain by WIRA and several private firms, and processes had been developed all of which had disadvantages. The treatments attacked the surface scales of the fibres sometimes removing them completely and it was difficult to avoid overtreatment with resultant fibre damage and loss in strength. We experimented with various processes and the firm finally adopted what was known as the Drisol process. This had been discovered in England by A. J. Hall who had assigned patent rights to Tootal Broadhurst Lee for commercial exploitation.
Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Deakin University; F. W. Hughes Pty Ltd; Gordon Institute, Geelong
People in Bright Sparcs - Lipson, Dr M.
© 1988 Print Edition pages 274 - 275, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher