Australian Dictionary of Biography

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William George Hayman (1897–1968)

by Wendy Birman

This article was published:

William George Inglis Hayman (1897-1968), electrical engineer and educationist, was born on 1 July 1897 at Norwich, England, son of George Samuel Thomas Hayman, timber merchant's foreman, and his wife Annie Frances, née Leman. Young Hayman, known as George, attended school at Great Yarmouth until the family migrated to Western Australia (about 1911). After further education in Perth, he joined the staff of Perth Technical School (College) in 1915 as senior cadet (technical assistant) in the physics laboratory while studying part-time; in 1918 he became assistant-lecturer in physics.

Hayman's education, which straddled the gap between technical training and academic studies, profoundly influenced his educational philosophy. Starting as an evening student at the technical school, he gained diplomas in mechanical and electrical engineering and graduated from the University of Western Australia (B.Sc., 1922; B.E. with first-class honours, 1925). He married Ruth Lynette Coleman on 17 January 1923 at Claremont Congregational Church. A (Sir John) Hackett research scholarship enabled him to study wireless technology abroad. Attached to the British radio research station at Slough, England, in 1930, he was inspired by the inventor of radar Sir Robert Watson-Watt. Back in Perth, he progressed in 1939 to head of the engineering department at Perth Technical College.

Throughout World War II Hayman led an experimental, secret Ultra High Frequency station, based in the university's engineering school. He was an amateur radio enthusiast and the respected patron of the State division of the Wireless Institute of Australia. Under his call signal YK6GH, from 1946 he reached a wide network of amateur broadcasters.

In April 1948 Hayman succeeded L. W. Phillips as superintendent (later director) of technical education. Concurrently he was regional director of industrial training for the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service. Already an experienced negotiator with the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, the building industry and the State's Arbitration Court on apprenticeship regulations, he helped to design courses that embraced technological developments appropriate for ex-service personnel, a burgeoning multi-cultural population and industry's unprecedented demand for a skilled workforce. His administrative responsibilities included co-ordinating building specifications and resolving manifold organizational problems, not least the establishment of outlying suburban and country centres suitable for diverse aspects of technical education. Appointed deputy director-general of education in 1960 he retired in February 1962.

Though initially dismissed as 'guess work, half truths and conjecture', Hayman's proposal in 1948 to establish an institute of technology was reconsidered in 1952. He was then briefed to assess the Collier pine plantation at Bentley as a possible site. The 1966 enabling legislation for the establishment of the Western Australian Institute of Technology (later Curtin University), was described as 'one of the greatest milestones in the educational history of this State'.

Hayman was of slightly below medium stature, with receding dark hair and a full face; he wore heavy spectacles and was an amiable, no nonsense man, popular with students and respected by colleagues. A member of Perth Rotary Club and several professional associations, he was a Freemason and belonged to Westralia Preceptory No.167 and University Lodge No.154. His wife died in July 1968 and he on 16 September that year in hospital at Shenton Park, survived by their daughter and son. He was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • M. White, The Community and Post-School Education in Western Australia (Perth, 1981)
  • M. White, WAIT to Curtin (Perth, 1996)
  • M. White, Thomas Logan Robertson 1901-1969 (Perth, 1999)
  • Education Circular (Perth), vol 65, no 3, 1964, p 65
  • Technical Topics (Perth), no 19, Nov 1967, no 21, Nov 1968
  • West Australian, 18 Sept 1968, p 9
  • EDF 034/15, and W. G. Hayman, ACC1022A (State Records Office of Western Australia).

Citation details

Wendy Birman, 'Hayman, William George (1897–1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 15 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


1 July, 1897
Norwich, Norfolk, England


16 September, 1968 (aged 71)
Shenton Park, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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