Tag Archives: James Dyson

This author’s great great great great grandfather.

The Stranger In the Mirror

There is currently no known authentic likeness that exists of James Dyson. He was a prominent man of his time— merchant, land owner, Perth City Councillor—he was present at certain key events in the history of the city: He was definitely present at the opening of the Perth Town Hall, he was most likely present at the opening of the Perth Railway Station, The Wesleyan Church, Royal visit, parades… All these events were photographed, but there is no currently identified photograph of James Dyson. Even…

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An Anthemic Ancestor

Television and photo-plays have theme tunes. Nation-states have theme tunes which they call National Anthems. For most of Australia’s past two centuries, the national theme tune has been “God Save the [Queen/King]” (which does say quite a lot about the mentality of those who made that choice). Outside show-business identities and fictional characters, real people tend not have their own personal theme tune which plays whenever they make an entrance in to a room. (The President of the United States’s personal theme music pretty much…

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Dyson’s Corner (the First)

As a would-be historian, I am always torn between my desire to share the information I have collected and the desire to find that one final piece of the puzzle that will complete the story I want to tell. Most of the time, that final piece is not— and may never be— there, but what to do then? Should I hoard away what I have so far, or publish and be damned? If this is not your first reading of this page and what you…

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Winterbottom’s End

Joseph Winterbottom was the old bastard pursued by Oldham police across the border from Lancashire into the West Riding of Yorkshire in the summer of 1833. Arrested by the Halifax Constabulary, he was immediately identified by visiting Oldham bloodhound Heywood as a known rogue and vagabond, and proceeded to squeal like a pig, identifying the four men who were his accomplices in robbing a local Halifax man on the road that previous night. But when the case went to trial, Winterbottom was not among those…

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The Sons of Australia: Foundation and Foulkes

Sometimes its just a name that piques your interest. Sometimes names are all you have. The Sons of Australia Benefit Society was formed in January 1837 and it’s final meeting was held in August 1897. For sixty years it seemed to be an ever-present feature in the social fabric of Perth, Western Australia— and then it was gone. Most of what there is to know about the society comes from the contemporary press. That there was no mention of it in the Perth Gazette, the…

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I hate Maitland Brown

I aspire to be a historian, but we are not supposed to ventilate opinions like this. Actually, when studying for my degree we were also not supposed to write in the first person (Is there not an “I” in history?). I don’t believe we as historians have any licence to make things up. I also don’t believe we have any right to ignore evidence we find inconvenient to our beliefs. That’s why this particular article I have found so hard to write. But I do…

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Steam Powered Luddites

James Dyson had built something of an empire in Western Australia on the back of supplying timber sourced the old fashioned way—by hand. Pity the other pit-sawyer though, who had to stand in that pit when the logs were being sliced into planks, and pity also the poor sap (pun intended) whose on-the-job-training did not include lessons where not to stand when the tree fell. Dyson’s business portfolio included more than just being a timber merchant, so his decline from being one of the largest…

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Timber!

Timber was the business of James Dyson from his earliest years in Western Australia. A year after his arrival in 1841 he was working as a labourer. Of the few people from this time we know for sure that he associated with, Stephen Hyde was a carpenter, and his next door neighbour in Perth for the next ten years.  By 1845 James was describing himself as a sawyer, and the earliest mention of him in the newspapers of the Swan River Colony was as the…

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The Little Boy Lost: Enter Drewy.

He was a monster. That has to be made plain from the start. He could be very funny, he was creative and he was intelligent. He loved animals. He probably loved his family, but he also hurt them. He hurt them a lot. He also hurt many of the animals he loved as well, and he also hurt himself. He could laugh at himself. Others laughed at him too, a lot. He would have been fun to know personally but he humiliated those who had no choice but to share his name. He was the meanest drunk Western Australia has possibly ever known (and I realise that is a bold claim to make) and he was the fattest Western Australian of the nineteenth century. He was Andrew “Drewy” Dyson.

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