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H3167 Box kite, single cell, cotton / wood / string / metal, made by Lawrence Hargrave, Woollahra Point, New South Wales, Australia, 1909. Click to enlarge.

Box kite designed by Lawrence Hargrave

Designed
The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences holds the largest collection of material internationally of the aviation pioneer, Lawrence Hargrave. While no single individual can be attributed to the invention of the aeroplane, Hargrave belonged to an elite body of scientists and researchers (along with Octave Chanute, Otto Lilienthal and Percy Sinclair Pilcher) whose experiments and inventions paved the way for the first powered, controlled flight achieved by the Wright Brothers on December 17, …

Summary

Object No.

H3167

Object Statement

Box kite, single cell, cotton / wood / string / metal, made by Lawrence Hargrave, Woollahra Point, New South Wales, Australia, 1909

Physical Description

Rectangular, single cell box kite with wooden frame and covered with brown cotton. The kite has internal wooden supports in cross formation. The cotton cover has curved wooden ribs, three on the top and three on the bottom. There are metal rings on the inside centre strut. Several tears in the cotton have been hand stitched.

Specifications:
Aspect ratio: 2.2
Length: 25"
Span: 56"
Height: 15"
Area: 19.35
Weight: 2.156 lbs

Marks

None

Dimensions

Width

1433 mm

Depth

525 mm

Production

Notes

This box kite was designed and produced by Lawrence Hargrave at Woollahra Point, New South Wales, Australia on August 2, 1909.

History

Notes

Lawrence Hargrave believed that kites with reverse curves provided ideal supporting surfaces. As with this particular example, Hargrave used a single cell with a reverse curve to obtain both lateral and longitudinal stability. However, as is the case with another reverse curve kite like this which he made (also in August, 1909), Hargrave did not try his idea in flight.

The second of four children of John Fletcher and Ann, Lawrence Hargrave was born at Greenwich, London on January 29, 1850. In 1856, Lawrence's father, eldest brother Ralph and uncle Edward emigrated to Australia in what appears to be a consensual marital separation between John and Ann. They were bound for Sydney to join a third brother of John and Edward, who was a member of the Legislative Assembly for New England (named Richard), while Ann, Lawrence and her two other children, Alice and Gilbert, stayed in Kent, England.

During his early years, Lawrence was educated at the Queen Elizabeth's School in Kirkby Lonsdale, Westmoreland, before he sailed to Australia in 1865 to join his father, brother and two uncles. John Fletcher, who was a distinguished judge in the New South Wales Supreme Court living at Rushcutters Bay House, anticipated a career for Lawrence in law. Despite organising tuition for him, Lawrence failed to matriculate, but was subsequently accepted to begin an apprenticeship with the Australasian Steam Navigation Company (ASN Co) in 1867. For five years he worked as an apprentice, gaining invaluable skills in woodworking, metalworking and design.

The circumnavigation voyage of Australia aboard the 'Ellesmere' (offered to Lawrence by another passenger en route to Australia from London) obviously stimulated an interest for Lawrence in exploration. From 1871, Lawrence joined the Committee of Management of J.D. Lang's New Guinea Prospecting Association and in 1872 was on board the brig 'Maria', bound for New Guinea in search of gold, when it sunk off Bramble reef, north Queensland, causing great loss of life. After returning to Sydney to work for the ASN Co, and later the engineers P.N. Russell & Co, Lawrence participated in several more exploratory voyages to the Torres Strait and New Guinea, accompanying figures like William Macleay, Octavius Stone and Luigi d'Albertis along the Fly River. These voyages continued until 1876, at which time Lawrence worked at the foundries of Chapman & Co, before choosing to settle down with new wife, Margaret Preston Johnson in September, 1878 with whom he had six children (Helen-Ann (Nellie), Hilda, Margaret, Brenda, Geoffrey and Brenda-Olive).

In January of the following year, Lawrence commenced work as an extra observer (astronomical) at Sydney Observatory under the Government astronomer H.C. Russell. In this role, Lawrence was able to make a number of important observations and inventions, including the transit of Mercury in 1881, the Krakatoa explosion in 1883 and the design and construction of adding machines. The income made from land bestowed to Lawrence by his father in Coalcliff, however, meant that in 1883 Lawrence was able to resign from his position at the Observatory to pursue his fascination and study into artificial flight. This interest came about from his observation of waves and animal motion, including fish, birds and snakes.

Lawrence's earliest experiments, spanning 1884-1892, involved propulsion with monoplane models built from light wood and paper. He first attempted to build a full-size machine capable of carrying a human in 1887 and in 1889 he built his most influential engine - a three cylinder radial rotary engine. Lawrence's later experimental phase, 1892-1909, involved the use of curved surfaces in his models. This research subsequently led to the development of the box kite, the most famous invention associated with his name.

Lawrence always conducted his experiments in his local area (i.e. Rushcutters Bay, Woollahra Point and Stanwell Park). He was against patenting his inventions for fear of stifling the development of aviation in the bigger picture and therefore published his results quickly and widely, particularly through the Royal Society of New South Wales. This Society helped Lawrence to gain an international reputation and brought him into contact with other aviation pioneers like Octave Chanute and Otto Lilienthal. The very first paper he gave was "The Trochoided Plane" (delivered August 6, 1884).

In Lawrence's later years he conducted research into early Australian history, postulating the theory that two Spanish ships found their way into Sydney Harbour in the late 16th century. Apart from this and of course his interests in aeronautics, Lawrence also concerned himself with the contemporary issues of patent laws, free competition, Darwinism, a bridge for Sydney Harbour, pensions, strikes and conscription.

Lawrence Hargrave died of peritonitis at Lister Hospital on July 6, 1915. Lawrence's death came only nine weeks after the death of his youngest son, Geoffrey, at Gallipoli.

This particular kite was presented to the Museum by Lawrence Hargrave in July 1910.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Lawrence Hargrave, 1915

Acquisition Date

10 July 1915

Cite this Object

Harvard

Box kite designed by Lawrence Hargrave 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 September 2021, <https://ma.as/236326>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/236326 |title=Box kite designed by Lawrence Hargrave |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=27 September 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}