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1 correction by kjharris - Show corrections






This is a story of Dr William Bland,   M.L.C., duellist, convict, libeller of a New   South Wales Governor, and inmate of Parramatta Gaol, philanthropist, legislator, inventor, educationalist, and man of do-

mestic sorrows.

In 1818 Wentworth said of this most re , raarkublc man - No one ever served a

countr) in a purer spirit, or more richly dcBervcd the gratitude of a generous people " He died suddenly at Ins resi dence in College street, S)dncy, on Jul) 21, 18ÖS, and m ins standard woik, Men of the rimes," published in 1879, J II Hca , ton remarks - ' lhe attendance at his

funeral showed how greatl) he was ap predated b) all classes of the commuait) His mortal remains-the first ever con «veyed from the mortuar) chapel-were in

tcrred at the Necropolis, where a monu ment has been erected to his memory " The ' Dictionary of National Biography ' sa)s - Ivcst to W G Wentworth, Aus- tralia is indebted to Bland for the poll

tical institutions she now enjoys" His . place in Australian history is assured Yet he is already the subject of a legend that is absolutely false, though published by authority, whilst hw moat amazing achievement is not mentioned in any book of reference available, to Australians Not the late Count Zeppelin, of Berlin, but Dr Bland, MJJC, of Sydney, was the origma tor of the airship, and his marvellous con

ception dated back to 1851 Perhaps Shakes- peare was right when be wrote -"Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow" lhe plans were practicable, but to the mid Victorians the very suggestion was fane!


It is true that the American continent can claim the distinction of the first bold conception of aerial navigation In tho 17th century a Pot tugúese priest in Brazil, 1 ather Bartholomew Laurent, desired to sec his coimtr)mcn lead in the air, as tiley had airead) led in the adventurous past on the sea« His idei of an airship was an egg shaped affair I rom stem to stern were fixtures representing sails to turn as they were directed,' while below were di«p|j)cd two wings, ' which 1 cpt the ship upright ' The prow was the beak of a w lid looking bird, wlnlbt the 17th centur) illustrator shows that the sacerdotal in ventor had thoufehtfull) arranged for n great flag at the stern, large enough in ilaelf to wreck the ship It was the Royal flag of Portugal ibis wind driven ab surdity has no claim to consideration If it could ever have been made to ' fly ' it would have had the same fate as Andre s balloon over two centuries later Nothing wind-driven is navigable in the oir, in an), sense entitling it to be called an airship


In 18(30 a striking broadsheet of six columns was issued by "David Mason, machine printer, 3 Queen's place, Sydney " The present writer has a copy which he discovered among papers relating to his grandmother, Caroline Chisholm, lu tori call) known as ' The Immigrants 1 rieud ' fhis interesting document is headed -The Atmotic Ship, By the lion W Bland, MLC" In September last the ' Technical Gazette of New South

Wales," which is issued by the Lducataon''

department, had a luminous and well dlus tratcd article on Lawrence Hargrave and his work It began this way -"The majority of Australians have probably never heard of Lawrence Hargrave'

\\ hose fault is that' Australians should glor) in the fact that an Australian made the aeroplane possible How man) people in Australia have ever heard of Dr Bland s 'Atmotic Ship," the direct precuisor of the Zeppelin' 'ict a model of this re markable invention was exhibited at Hie Cnstal Palace, London, in 1852, and with some slight modifications in its details, at the Paris Universal Lxhibition of the same pcriotl What has become of that model ' Lxccpt that the motive power was steam and not petrol, Dr Bland's description and sketches of his Atmotic Ship could bo taken to refer to a modern Zeppelin, Dix mude, or ¡5 RI He writes - The first idea of this invention suggested itself to me in March, 1851 lhe following month drawings of it were despatched to a friend, who was a profeBMonal engineer tn 1 ng f land Later, a fresh scries of designs,

cxplanator) of its construcdon and objects, was sent horne, but too late, or it would have been placed, with a fitting model, as ) a companion to my invent on for the 'sup-

pression of spontaneous combustion in wool ships,' ¿c, in the 'Great Industrial

Exhibition' " (1851)

Bland was no theoretical inventor, but perfectly practical in hw ideas His niven tion for the prevention of spontaneous com bnstion in wool ships was first experunen tal!)- demonstrated in public at the School of Arts, fc)dne), in 1839 He published a pamphlet on this Bubjcet, with explana tor) engravings, which had a wide circula tion m Lngland, on the Continent of Furopc general!), in India, and in what waa then developed of Australia He writes -'In 1815 a second edition of the pamphlet was published, with a dedication to the late Sir John franklin, at that time the excellent and enterprising Govcr nor of Tasman]i, b) whom it was acknow ledged in the most gratif)ing terms" The invention is appreciative!) mentioned in the ' Mcchunic H Magazine ' of M ireh l8 1818, whilst the ' ïear Book of lucts' for 1850 and 1852 states that in ISP), and sul> scqucntl), it was used with the fullest sue cess to extinguish lires in cothuincs '


Blind's ' Atmotic Ship ' was intended to be anv thing between 200ft and 500ft lonB It was to be driven b) twin screw propel lers lixod m the flojr ol the car and in the keel of the huge gas float lhere were

revolving vvintlsails" on the windmill principle at each end, hut Blind was vere, doubtful how these would act, and the) Yveie conscquentl) made entire]) detach able An ingenious device was contcm plated b) which a controlled sliding weight would move along a bar when re

quired, causing the vessel to t il c either a descending or ascending direction, without throwing out bull ist to rise or releasing gas to descend Meering was to be it tamed in the same m inner, for all prac lie ii purposes, na it is attained to dav Due precautions were taken m the plan nmg of the \tmotic Ship' agunst the

danger of ignition from the steam fire '

There were to be ' scieens 1 ice 1 with asbestos to intercept anv btra) snail s " An c\inun idon "f Blunda bketches shows that the arrangements were such that the

stc mi fire' proposed would have been no mon directly dangerous in general than the petrol lire' ol toda)-and consider dil) less so in cases of iccidcnt Bland oiliuljted that the ordinär) rate of loco motion would be tbont 50 knots nu hour '

Assuming that 'a billoon by Brande," ilOft in diameter, would rui--c and sustain a weight of five tons, or about 10,42olh exclusive of its own covering and net

ting ' Bland concluded that Ins Atmotic Mop rould be made any size, and rip ible ol earning nnv weight, b) proportionate alterations m the dimensions of the float He |,ave tentative liguics showing in ex cees if rustaiiiing povvet of 1J tons' for an Umotic hhip with engines and boilers »ngiling 4-MOlb ml of a total weight ol 8 0001b He bad studied Nature, and pro pos.d that the float should be shaped with 'a large dorsal surface" as far as might be ' analogous to the broil dorsal ind abdominal surface of some of the cctacec, wlit^fa Ts so useful to them ni their

i ipid ns5<-rits for the purpose of 1 low ing as vv^tf aa )u their descents, te. linn ill; lyancd soundings ' Ile installer 1 further "the outstretched wings of the condor uni other birds of prev," and the use ol their tails as nerlai rudders bv wi) of em pbnsiRing the importation of shape mid


Blind foresaw the necessity for ' hrge landing and starting places,' or whit be called atmotic termini, ' and ii«, for hangars, and iiiehnriKc post« ' sut li is those at Lakehurst (I >S \ ) to dav In tins, broadsheet Bland nnswcis prjcdnlh iv el) conceivable objection, e\(cpt the financial objection ' is to the cost of con " struction and mainlenance, ¿Le , which he

tpiaintl) dismisses as 'so plainly npo (i)phil ns to require nothing hut hire no dee ' Hie 'dertrie dingeis from ascent into the atmosphere rec. ive moro aden tion thin would be given to them now But the onlv objectiou which appeared nt Tall formidable to Dr Blind (writing in

IMifl) w is apjiirentlv the possible politic ii objeeti in He nu els it quill suceessfullv

but the nccessit) for stirb rcllecdons strikes one as quite curious to d i) Ile wrib s -' (.ould tr «oui I lurial niw galion tend to plaei the dtlTirent ruis of man too much on a par with eirh other oi to their aggressive ponéis' \\ i ulil tin« Sonable the birbarous nntions if the cirlh

bv thin vast nuineriial sopen uti to ov. r whelm the civilised portions tf the (.lobe

lhere mu ht s uni plausibilit) at hrst sight m this objirtion and li might bv sime lu mi igim I tint then c nil I lu lut oin tonrlu« on lunn!v, that i bin ou^ht to be plirul on nil) n'ttmpt at ntmotn navigation There ucotber politic ii at MI in. nts iiguust its lntiodiietinn pet hip itill mon iilinisibh Ibu« might not on

lucjil) polish« d neighbours themselve«. willi tilt ir larKC tit use popul ilu n be in ible I bv tin. above means to bit onie both troublesome and formidable to tim numerieallv Its« pivverful neighbours*

Dr Blind rcplnd in iffwt lint science and pnsiess could not be slav.ti Trajín (Ciistmctul a biih,i at lass the I) inubi to iiaeh and uwlisi the buharían« mid Ilidn in tlestrovrd lhe sime ludio m irdir to 1 cop the bilbinnia within their own bin dei s Blind tills tin sim and makes It clear that m world poblv be was n Innige builder, mid not a bridge dcstro)ir lit took the view that man hn\ nu» (onqutrid the st i shuild also su it be coiil I not . impur tin au Ile

point« d nut tint lo|,ii ill) i pohf

.> ..!>,>. "I r-l.,". I, M> ' !.. n.p.,1 .,,,,.

Iiilitiiul olneetiin' t.. ninil n HIL. ition

was neressiirdv ol a tvpi that vv ni i b iv inteiibttiil the elliot ti tilt sivn"i ni j ii llistniir tunis nul in tin lu dun II

would baw int.rlu It.I tin iiittodui don if printing of mai lum \ \ ot sti un c ir rugis and stc mi nnv cation and tin diffusion of idiicalinii amont, st the

lu tv, s '

u PROUD iv i v.i \\n

M leon s Imailshtet i« of ( oin se onlv a piqulir lYiiisitim of tin ntmotic ship Munit tin MIHI pt ni I tint isa i upl. .1 w us lu in Dr II! III 1 S .!. ith the (¡our no. of \.w s nth \\ ilis fin wurdi 1 lu- ll iboratul tulinu ii plans to tin lit it l-l Giiviiiunint and Dr Blind lum,, li dts pitt lu I i inn« to Hu Yet ni nidi il '«ou. tv of Gi. it tli«nin lb. British (. .win mull 11 u ll\ a. know It .IM I li" riiup! oi Hie pi ins and promptlv pig« on liol«. I Hu in Hu lu. intuit ii Siuoti vv is (quill) suptn.l lut u luth nu ro ( mil, titi«, lb. th.n Dill, of Vin II. »Iii vvis p. Miluit

vi nit to Di III m I i\pi(ssiu. Ins mist piitoiml lulu, st uni Ins equ illv pinfouml disbiliif in au ships It must 1, ti lui it te .1

bivvtvu, Hut llu Did. n! Aruvll was linn h mun m uti linn most .1 lln nn in bus of Hu Yu n nilli il N iiuv if thosi du« His unrthit«, i< I Hut

Ulundi s billin ns ' uirisiiitid the lib o lilli limit ii pissiluluv ni Hillturn I lu Dule tn Hu umun. bul n di ir |i, vision u ilu aiiopltnt II lold Dr Bl nul that lu bul no futli whiitiwr m Hu hJuu Hi in mr mimi 1. M III lu sill vv ill ) 11 llv on the opp sid i mu ipi,, Hut is bv wonjil Ilb-iiv, th. biuls tlnv mi .11 lu iv ti i thin air lu AUMIN!. list I nu, ii, i lluiM u. s Ivi.l Hi. Duli «I Are.» Il s piobhin and «illistrin lui the lust thing mallum lu iviu Ihm air (hat our dill. 1 M iv it) but Austi ilu did no1 bulbil .Now b Iii piiuuplis bivi tiiumphid ami w. ur. nu t\n ive of an cummins ,Kvilopnitnt of liligi mroplnuts and gig.iitu au ships Alu nlv an uno

»lain «miling ."> passingera is on tin .millen I'm is rout« I'ris. ntl) un simm will eui) liunilr..Is from one end ul the

nilli th the nth i

Whon Uliiiiil died his atmotic ship was foi (.ni lui But it should not bo foiM>ttei) totlav, foi not (omit /ippilin but Dr Bliinil is out it li ti to nil th. piont u honours While IH his I'm is inoilil of lHñ." Winn

e his pi rft eli ti pi inn of Hu nudillo sutilsv lhe) ma) have pnssul into the

losstssinn of u pu ate across the Rhine, mt coull) sinriel) have got out of dowrn tnent piMon bol«s without mupls If til.) ate in jug. on bobs to Hie pu st lit dil) It is moie Hum probable that our modem unship (OiisliuetoiH lune sonn thing to

leam from them A» a result of some II tvvdncy piihheit) it is understood Hint » I o ptirjoiu tllort will bu wadu, by thu Nuw o


of fe

South Wales Government to trace them b) rcprcEcntitions in the required quar ters It ins of course, utterly absurd for General Dupont to declare after the destruction of the Di_inude that airships will ncicr be safe" lhc Jjitmudo was in old /eppciin and it was made, not to face storms, but to carry bombs to Lou don ni fivourable weither lho gront \mencan /ii I popularly called the Micmudoah is the answer to l.cneral Dupont It brol e loose from the hingir

anchor post at I akehurst, and vi cathcred a hurricane of 80 miles an hour I\o doubt however, the Dixmude will not be the on!) airship to meet disaster Air «hips, like sciships will become Bafc bj slupivT"cl the risks of air naugation iv ill never bo altcgcther removed, any- more than the risks of Eca luwigation have been altoLcthcr remoled, but the) will be gradually minimised bj dearly bought experience Human beings mil not be deterred by danger from the full conquest of the air, any more than they were deterred bj danger from the full conquest of the sea-and Britishers least

of all

lor cnlv by such deed« a» these.

In riskinr; Ufo to do and dare

His man won Ireedom of the Sea»

«so he 11 vv In 1 rccdom of the Alr

Thcsc four lines are from the Jost Jingles of a distinguished Australian now

at Geneva

Dr Uland was the opposite of war like He advocated atmotic naugation -»ii)

lo incrc-ise the transport facilities of man,j and incidentally reduce the passage from the parent country to Ihm colony from Li 000 miles to G,000 miles and the time taken from two or three montlis lo about four or hie diys (2) for the improie mont of human knowledge of atmospheric currents and conditions (3) is the pur ticular hindniaitl or ill) of «istronom». and mctcorolcjjj uni (4) for the general promotion cf animation commerce, and science 1 hese conceptions m connec lion with acrul naugatim arc not not di to-di) Hut what were they in the sixties and cirlv lift us Ml australians should he proud of Dr Uland and his wonderful atmotic ship planned generations before the world was ready for such an achieve ment He »as at least half a ccntur) in advance of his times and doubtless m-ui) of tho to c died n isc tapped their foreheads signihcintly when Manon issued his bioidshcct in lSbO about the atmotic ship just as so many of the so called w ise in «sidney tapped (heir broad foreheads nearly two decides later »hen laurence HirMiic HIS cndciiourinp to mike some (hing homer thin the air support lli-clf

m the air and fli


William Bland was horn in London on November 1, 17S9 He was the son of Dr Hobert Uland a most eminent phjsiciau and medic ii writer He decided to follow his father s profession and took out his decree on Jaunir) 0 lbOD recen ing soon alter a null appointment as surgeon of His Majest) H ship Hcsper llu Dictionirv of ?s ttioni! liioeiaplis

(λSW ) naya Out the ship nilli el iel llomba) mil tint i qtnrrcl occurred with the purser, aud coutumes - V duel took place on leal hint, land in which the purser was fitalli wounded \n insinua non oi unfurnisg on the part of I len tcmnt \\ lill un 1! indall Ice! to i second

duel in which neither pnticipil ins hurt but both wire arréete 1 and subsequently tried at ( ileutti Ithnil vv s exiled to 'sydnei, where he arru ed m 1S11 I hat

all uVoliitcli incorrect lhere was no bccnnd duel tlicre was no liistuu ition of unfairness in the conduct of the duel that did talc plici, hi Lieutenant Uindait or in)body cl»e, and William Blind was transported to kidney lcciU6C a jury at Bombi) and Hie Recorder of that cits did not hchcie in the Laws of Honour ann duelling 1 ortiinately Dr Bl mel left a full account of the due', with nil leritung documents, nnd these are now in the Mitchell Library. Sydney This story written for postent) '-is a very interest ing one, but has nothing to do willi atmotic ships Bland hld done nothing disgraceful or in mi way dreadlul, aciord mg to the citraordinnr) code of those clays, and even hitor, but became i con Mit notwithstanding His circcr wa: chequered and his tiouhlo with ii Goier nor brought lum ti l'umnntti Gaol But these things pissed and he died if tor a long life ot UM ful nitiitt) honoured and loud by the whole Australiin tommuiittv rich anil I oor alike Second only to W cnt north in the memoriblc story if »tis trill in cminciiitiin histoiy will ict recognise his itmi tie ship anil gue lum one of the produist places as a pioneir of the Air ige lho conquest ot the mr mil alter ill the con litions of human hie on this plmct Both Hirgnic anl Bland Impel tint such a c inquest ii ould not mill innl c m ni miste r CM the veil he ivens lut bring lum nriret t) his heilen Is it too min h ti hipe tint tin se tuumphs may »el help nun to lut VninwH aboie the strife tint stilles the rise to luther __________________ I