Henry Sutton, The Innovative Man

A book about Henry Sutton, a highly active and innovative inventor from Ballarat. By Lorayne Branch

Publisher:Self published through Tried and Trusted Indie Publishing . 2018
Author: Lorayne Branch
Characteristics:408 pages, ; 24 cm.
Source:Peter E

Henry Sutton, Australian Inventor, Scientist and Engineer

Henry’s parents Richard and Mary migrated to Ballarat in 1854 amidst the turmoil of the Eureka uprising.

The book covers Henry’s many achievements, and they are from a diverse range of realms:

  • Scientific instruments
  • Electric motors
  • Bicycles, although no inventions only building and selling them
  • Cars, developing the kerosene carburettor.
  • Wireless telegraphy, early research into transmitting pictures.
  • Commercial mass print photography

Many inventions were not patented, as the cost of the process is expensive and costs need to be recovered quickly with manufacturing and marketing the invention. Selling an idea is probably harder than coming up with it.

Henry Sutton, The Innovative Man, cover

Henry was an adept businessman. A number of times he would “re-tool” the business to suit the buying trends at the time. When the cycling boom ended around the 1900’s he moved into building and improving cars.

Henry seemed to enjoy tinkering with electrical devices the most. One whole chapter covers his struggles dealing with the government telephone company (the PMG, Post Master General). And this is where the book could have been better by avoiding the politics of inventing and covering how they work. There are some diagrams provided but they aren’t clear with numbers referring to parts that are unexplained.

Vacuum pump designs by Henry Sutton

I suspect the age helped Henry, as it was a time when technology was simple and the cost of experimenting out of reach of nearly every working person. Most inventions of the era were made by those wealthy enough to afford the time and apparatus, or afford to employ a skilled craftsman to build what they needed.

Overall, a good read covering a fascinating historical figure, and a local one too. It should stimulate interest in looking for Henry’s old shop sites when walking around Ballarat.

Further Reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply