Page 284
Previous/Next Page
Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 5

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

V Acknowledgements



Contact us

Australian Wool Textile Research

The Wool Processing Section in the CSIR Division of Industrial Chemistry was, however, comparatively short-lived. At the outbreak of war, the Central Wool Committee was established by the Government to control the acquisition and sale of the wool clip. Testing Houses were set up by the Committee to help with the appraisement of the clip, and Freney was seconded from the CSIR to manage this work. In 1941, Lipson left CSIR to join Freney.

By the end of the Second World War the awareness of the need for research to support wool had grown significantly. The challenge of synthetic fibres had become strongly apparent with the development of nylon (polyamide) by Carothers of the U.S. Dupont Company in 1935. The war years had well proved the value of this new fibre, and chemical companies around the world were at that time spending large sums on research aimed at development of other synthetics, ultimately leading to the commercialization of acrylic and polyester fibres in the 1950s. It was estimated that in 1944 the U.S.A., for example, was spending 6 million pounds a year on synthetic fibre research, while in the U.K. Courtaulds Ltd. was spending 2 million pounds. By contrast, Australian expenditure on wool textile research totalled only 11,300 pounds, with the bulk of this being spent in England.

A Textile Panel was established by the Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction, and the report[8] of this Panel marked a turning point in the official attitude to wool textile research in Australia:

The field for textile research is a wide one and so far in Australia it is practically untouched. This needs immediate rectification by a bold policy based on an urgent need to have in Australia one of the best textile research institutes in the world, staffed by the best workers with every facility at their disposal. Australia must ensure that research facilities into wool are at all times equal to or better than those devoted to competitive fibres. It must embark on a virile program to keep ahead and to lower costs.

The Panel recommended that the research should be developed as a Textile Research Section of CSIR and become the world centre for research on wool. This recommendation was accepted by the Government, and on 1 November 1944 the Prime Minister issued a press statement giving details of the proposed arrangements for financing the research. A Wool Research Trust Fund was to be established into which the Government would make an annual payment of 2/- per bale. Growers would also contribute 2/- per bale, half of which would go to research and the other half to promotion. The Act was passed on 15 May 1945, and thus began the joint grower/Government funding of wool textile research that is still in effect today -albeit within a slightly modified system of funding.

The detailed arrangements took some time to settle, and the final structure was not in place until 1950. In 1948, Lipson returned from Leeds University, having carried out research on wool shrink-proofing by polymer application, to set up a CSIR wool-research unit at Geelong, initially housed at the Gordon Institute. Other Divisions of CSIR were now also active in wool textile research, with most work being done in the Biochemistry Unit of the Division of Industrial Chemistry, under Dr. F. G. Lennox.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australia. Ministry of Post-War Reconstruction; Central Wool Committee; CSIRO Division of Industrial Chemistry; Gordon Institute, Geelong; Textile Panel; Wool Research Trust Fund

People in Bright Sparcs - Freney, M. R.; Lennox, Dr F. G.; Lipson, Dr M.

Previous Page Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Next Page

© 1988 Print Edition page 276, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher