Honouring a Geelong pioneer

National Trust branch president Graham Hobbs and Geelong Regional Engineers Group president Bernie Chen at the Geelong Showgrounds Museum. (Louisa Jones) 414475_13

Local community and historical groups will honour the enduring legacy of pioneering genius James Harrison this week with a series of events as part of World Refrigeration Day on Wednesday June 26.

Mr Harrison conceived and built the world’s first commercial ice-making machine and refrigerator in Geelong 1854.

His life and achievements will be celebrated with open days at the Geelong Showgrounds Museum on Wednesday June 26 and Saturday June 29, featuring hourly presentations and demonstrations of a working miniature replica of Mr Harrison’s first ice-making machine.

The events will be delivered by the Geelong and Region Branch of the National Trust , the Royal Geelong Agricultural and Pastoral Society and the Geelong Regional Engineering Group.

Mr Harrison’s family will also be honoured at a private function on Wednesday night and at 11am on Thursday at a public event at Eastern Cemetery for their work in recently restoring his grave monument.

A true polymath, the Scottish immigrant was also a parliamentarian, town councillor, board member of industrial and charitable organisations and the founding editor of the Geelong Advertiser.

Mr Harrison’s achievements were also a key factor in Geelong being designated as Australia’s only UNESCO City of Design in 2017.

Geelong historian Lex Chalmers said Mr Harrison, who was perhaps Australia’s only contributor to the Industrial Revolution, had changed the world with his invention of refrigeration.

“Harrison was a one-man steam packet, with science, technology, engineering, arts, with his design ability and mechanical skills,” Ms Chalmers said.

“He invested so much money, time and energy into this vision (of refrigeration), but he never made a cracker out of it.”

Visit trybooking.com/CQZTL to book an open day session or for more information.