Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Dudley Francis Harricks (1880–1960)

by Arthur Corbett

This article was published:

Dudley Francis John Harricks (1880-1960), engineer, was born on 6 February 1880 at Maryborough, Queensland, third son of John Hugh Harricks, surgeon, who had migrated from Liverpool, England, in 1874, and his Sydney-born wife Christmas Anne, née Vokes-Dudgeon. Educated at Maryborough Grammar School, Dudley was apprenticed to Walkers Ltd, engineers, in 1896. On completing his articles he joined the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. in Sydney. A Rugby Union enthusiast, he captained the Maryborough team and in early days in Sydney was a part-time actor under the stage name of 'Leonard Dale'.

In 1905 Harricks was given charge of the drawing office and in 1918 became engineer-in-chief (until he retired in 1939) with responsibility for the wide range of mechanical, electrical and marine engineering in the company's mills in New South Wales, Queensland and Fiji, large workshops at Pyrmont, Sydney, and a fleet of ships. A staunch conservative in matters affecting the company, Harricks required apprentices to study outside working hours, but encouraged them by founding, and serving as president of, the Engineering Apprentices and Old Boys Club. For those who attained professional qualifications he obtained staff status in the company. He worked assiduously to raise the standing of engineers in the community.

A member of the Engineering Association of New South Wales from 1906, Harricks contributed papers to its meeting and acted as honorary secretary and editor of its Minutes and Proceedings. During World War I he and the association gave a lead to local manufacture of munitions by publishing information collected world wide. He also stressed the responsibility of engineers for the aesthetic qualities of their designs and for minimizing pollution. As president of the Engineering Association from 1916, Harricks was the driving force behind the amalgamation of the foundation societies to form the Institution of Engineers, Australia, in 1920. He could have been first president of the new body, but instead supported Professor W. H. Warren. He was a foundation council-member until 1938, president in 1929 and was awarded its (Sir) Peter Nicol Russell memorial medal in 1939.

In 1917 Harricks had advocated a 'Science House' to bring together Sydney's learned societies: when the government granted land he organized finance for the building, which was opened in 1931. He was a council-member of the Standards Association of Australia, a member of the government's Housing Improvement Advisory Committee and of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London. In his later years he enjoyed tennis and motoring.

At St James's Anglican Church, Melbourne, Harricks had married Mary Geraldine Smyth on 18 September 1907; they lived at Wollstonecraft, Sydney, and had a daughter and three sons, two of whom were employed by C.S.R. Predeceased by his wife, he died in hospital at Kirribilli on 8 March 1960 and was cremated with Christian Science forms. The Sydney division of the Institution of Engineers has honoured him with the annual Harricks address and in 1961 C.S.R. established the Harricks memorial medallion.

Select Bibliography

  • A. H. Corbett, The Institution of Engineers, Australia (Syd, 1973)
  • Institution of Engineers, Australia, Journal, 1 (1929), 2 (1930), 32 (1960)
  • Engineering Association of New South Wales, Minutes, 30 (1914-15), 34 (1918-19) (copies held State Library of New South Wales, and Institution of Engineers, Australia, Library, Canberra)
  • Harricks papers (Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Library, Sydney).

Citation details

Arthur Corbett, 'Harricks, Dudley Francis (1880–1960)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 20 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Dale, Leonard

6 February, 1880
Maryborough, Queensland, Australia


8 March, 1960 (aged 80)
Kirribilli, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.