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Priddle, Raymond Arthur (1913–1971)

by Henry J. Cowan

This article was published:

Raymond Arthur Priddle (1913-1971), consulting engineer, was born on 8 January 1913 at Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, son of native-born parents Ernest William Wills Priddle, civil engineer, and his wife May Adeline, née Mawson. Ray attended Cumnock Public School, Fort Street Boys' High School, Sydney, and Bathurst High School. He studied civil engineering at the University of Sydney (B.E., 1934), graduating with first-class honours and the university medal. Awarded Blues for rifle-shooting by the university, the Australian Universities Sports Association and the Imperial Universities, he also represented his faculty in tennis and cricket. From his early schooldays Priddle was interested in amateur radio, and for some time he operated radio-station 2RA. At St Augustine's Anglican Church, Neutral Bay, on 15 June 1940 he married Margaret Anne Lawson, a stenographer.

After almost two years experience (with the Department of Main Roads in the Yass-Canberra area and Sydney Municipal Council) Priddle joined the staff of A. S. Macdonald & Wagner, consulting engineers. He became a partner in 1944; the firm was thereafter known as A. S. Macdonald, Wagner & Priddle. When the partnership was incorporated in 1971 Priddle was appointed chairman. Noted for his skill in co-operating with architects, he worked as structural consultant for many large buildings, including the Sydney Opera House.

Priddle was an excellent mathematician. He designed the structures of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization's radio-telescope at Parkes, the University of Sydney's Mills Cross radio-telescope near Canberra, and the Stellar Interferometer at Narrabri. In 1968 he visited a number of the world's largest telescopes; later, in association with the university, he made models of several alternative designs of polar-axis struts. His last project, still incomplete at the time of his death, was the Anglo-Australian Observatory's 150-inch (381 cm) optical-telescope at Siding Spring, near Coonabarabran.

A committee-member (from 1946) of the Sydney division of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, Priddle was elected to the council in 1954. As president (1963) and treasurer (1965-71), he worked closely with his friend G. I. Davey. Priddle was awarded the I.E.A.'s 1963 R. W. Chapman medal for his paper on 'Load Distribution in Piled Bents'. He never once refused to serve on any of the institution's committees. Sometime president of the Association of Consulting Structural Engineers of New South Wales and the Wireless Institute of Australia, he was a fellow (1967-71) of the senate of the University of Sydney, and a member (1958-62) of the National Capital Planning Committee and of numerous sub-committees of the Standards Association of Australia.

Priddle belonged to the University Club, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Rotary Club of Sydney. He also enjoyed playing golf. Survived by his wife, and their son and daughter, he died of a pulmonary embolism on 11 August 1971 at the Hornsby and District Hospital and was cremated. His estate was sworn for probate at $540,532. He was posthumously awarded the Peter Nicol Russell medal for 1971 by the I.E.A.

Select Bibliography

  • A. H. Corbett, The Institution of Engineers, Australia (Syd, 1973)
  • Institution of Engineers, Australia, Journal, Oct-Nov 1971, p 23, Dec 1971, p 15
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Mar, 30 July 1932, 20 May 1933, 28 Apr 1934, 7 Nov 1967, 21 Mar 1972.

Citation details

Henry J. Cowan, 'Priddle, Raymond Arthur (1913–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 11 June 2023.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

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