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Biographical entry Harrison, James (1816? - 1893)

April 1816?
Renton, Scotland
3 September 1893
Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Inventor and journalist


James Harrison worked as a journalist on various newspapers in Victoria from his arrival there in 1839 until his return to England about 1873. He was also a keen inventor, being a pioneer in all kinds of refrigeration and in 1873 he won a gold medal at the Melbourne Exhibition by proving that meat kept frozen for months remained perfectly edible.


Born Renton, near Ben Lomond, Scotland, April 1816?. Died Geelong, Victoria, 3 September 1893. Educated Evening College and Mechanics' Institute, Glasgow. Apprentice printer, Glasgow; compositor, London 1832-37; to Sydney with printing equipment for the Literary News 1837; foreman, Sydney Monitor and work for the Sydney Herald 1837-39; worked for the Port Phillip Patriot 1839-40; founder, Geelong Advertiser 1840, editor 1840-67, owner 1842-62; also founded Geelong Almanac and Intelligencer 1950; founder Geelong Register 1865-67; editor, Melbourne Age from 1867. Designed and built the plant for the first Australian manufacture of ice 1854; formed the Sydney Ice Company with P.N. Russell 1860; designed a revolutionary refrigerator 1860; work on the refrigeration of ships for the export of meat from 1870; in England ca 1873-92, working as a journalist on the Age under the name "Oedipus"; returned to Geelong 1892, continuing to write and making plans to produce soda from his block. His portrait is in the Geelong Art Gallery.

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Lang, William Rawson, James Harrison, Pioneering Genius (Newtown: Neptune Press, 1982). Details

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Harrison, James, 'Ice Making Machinery (Patent, 27 July, 1860)', Specifications of Letters of Registration of Patents for Inventions - South Australia, 1 (8) (1848-68). Details
  • Jones, L., 'James Harrison - Pioneering Genius', Australian Physicist, 10 (1983), 179. Details
  • Morrison, Elizabeth, 'James Harrison: Inventor and Science Journalist', Australasian Science, 19 (10) (1998), 48. Details
  • Young, Neville, 'Back to the Future: the James Harrison Memorial Oration', AIRAH Journal, 45 (3) (1991), 9-12. Details


See also

  • Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Technology in Australia 1788-1988, Online edn, Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, Melbourne, 3 May 2000, Details
  • Arthur, Ian, 'Technology and agriculture in Australia', ASHET News, 11 (1) (2018), 3-8. Details
  • Engineers Australia, Wonders never cease: 100 Australian engineering achievements (Barton, Australian Capital Territory: Institution of Engineers, Australia, 2019), 236 pp. p.98. Details

McCarthy, G.J.