Exhibition: James Harrison’s Momentous Achievements

Exhibition and Shows

20 Mar 2021 to 28 Mar 2021 Once Only Event

James Harrison invented refrigeration in 1854 in a shed beside the Barwon River, Geelong.

An untrained designer, draughtsman and engineer, as an immigrant printer from Scotland, in 1840 he founded The Geelong Advertiser. Geelong’s population was 400. The paper thrived, and within two years he owned it.

He was a community leader, helping to set up institutions from the Racing Club to the Benevolent Asylum. Elected to the first Town Council in 1850, he was later elected to the Victorian Parliament.

From 1850 Harrison was experimenting with volatile chemicals, creating cold in a sealed system to better keep his fishing catch. His application of steam power to refrigeration created an Australian contribution to the Second Industrial Revolution.

Patenting his invention, in 1856 he perfected it with precision engineers in London, returning in 1858 with a 10 hp machine producing 10 tons of ice a day. It cost 1200 pounds (over $100,000 today).

Developing ice works in Geelong, Melbourne and Sydney was costly, and in 1861 Harrison had to sell everything to avoid bankruptcy.

For most of the next 30 years he was a scientific correspondent for David Syme of the Melbourne Age in Australia and England – except for a visionary 1873 venture to export frozen meat, where tragically the insulation failed.

On show will be a timeline of Harrison’s amazing life, models and memorabilia.


Carpark Family Friendly


From AU$6.00

Event Dates

Once Only Event

20 Mar 2021 to 28 Mar 2021

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