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George Barrand Tindale (1903–1977)

by Ian D. Peggie

This article was published:

George Barrand Tindale (1903-1977), agricultural scientist and horticulturist, was born on 20 October 1903 at Hawthorn, Melbourne, second child of Victorian-born parents George Tindale, accountant, and his wife Letitia, née Pierce. Sent to Melbourne High School, George gained a free place at the University of Melbourne (B.Ag.Sc., 1926), where he won a Wrixon exhibition in agriculture and agricultural engineering. On 22 March 1926 he joined the Victorian Department of Agriculture as research officer at the Government Cool Stores, Victoria Dock, West Melbourne. Although pathologists in several States had previously carried out cool-storage investigations, he was the first full-time researcher in the field in Australia.

Working mostly on his own, Tindale devised experiments, obtained essential scientific equipment and established contact with the horticultural industry. In his first year he conducted trials with several fruits. He published a paper on the cool storage of Washington navel oranges (Journal of the Department of Agriculture of Victoria, 1927) to assist the fledgling export trade in that product. His tests with grapes led to a consignment being shipped to Britain in 1928. Granted study leave in England that year, he worked at the East Malling Research Station, Kent, and visited numerous other establishments, including the Low Temperature Research Station, Cambridge. This experience influenced his approach to storage research, especially into the effects of maturity, cultural conditions, temperature and atmosphere. He also gained an appreciation of fruit quality—its aroma, flavour and texture—as distinct from mere marketability.

In 1931 Tindale was joined by S. A. Trout, a biochemist with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and next year by F. E. Huelin, a C.S.I.R. chemist. The three formed an excellent team, with Tindale providing the horticultural knowledge, and his A-model Ford for transport. Their report on the storage, ripening and respiration of pears (Journal of Agriculture, Victoria, 1938) laid the foundation for a large increase in Victoria's export of the fruit. Another joint paper dealt with the popular but difficult-to-store Jonathan apple. Tindale worked alone for much of the 1940s, conducting storage experiments on a wide range of fruit, and publishing the results in the Journal of Agriculture, Victoria. He was an excellent adviser, assisting growers of numerous horticultural products to adopt new storage practices and develop export trades.

Temperature control in many early cold stores by means of wall coils or battery systems proved adequate for frozen meat, but not for fruit. Experimenting with ceiling-mounted coils and brine recirculation, Tindale achieved precise temperature control and high humidity conditions. His methods were adopted in numerous Victorian cool stores with excellent results. In 1956 he moved to the Horticultural Research Station, Scoresby, as leader of the post-harvest section. New facilities at the establishment allowed larger and more complex experiments which suited his philosophy: 'If you put enough questions to nature she will give you the answer'. He published Apple and Pear Cool Storage in Victoria (Melbourne, 1966).

Tindale devoted his weekends to his 400-acre (162 ha) sheep-farm at Woori Yallock. His love of ornamental horticulture led him in 1958 to buy Pallants Hill, an 8.4-acre (3.4 ha) property at Sherbrooke in the Dandenong Ranges. The many large mountain ashes remaining on the holding had been underplanted with exotic trees and shrubs, especially rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. He developed the garden into one of the finest in the district. In 1960 the third conference of Australasian technical officers engaged on research into fruit and vegetable storage was held at the property's homestead. On 25 March 1961 at St Columba's Presbyterian Church, Balwyn, Tindale married Margaret Ruth Adams, a 42-year-old artist. She added several of her sculptures to the grounds, and helped to design the extensive rockery plantings and the layout of the walks.

After his retirement in 1968, Tindale continued to improve his garden and served as secretary of the Ferny Creek Horticultural Society. He died on 21 May 1977 at Pallants Hill and was cremated. His wife survived him and managed the property until 1980 when she gave it to the Victorian Conservation Trust. The Department of Conservation and Environment opened the George Tindale Memorial Garden to the public.

Select Bibliography

  • ABC, Gardens of Victoria, 1991/92 (Syd, 1991)
  • I. D. Peggie, 'Postharvest Horticulture in Australia—A History from 1880 to 1945', in Proceedings of the Australasian Postharvest Conference held at the University of Queensland Gatton College, Australia, 20 September-24 September 1993 (Lawes, Qld, 1993)
  • Food Technology in Australia, 22, no 5, May 1970, p 216.

Citation details

Ian D. Peggie, 'Tindale, George Barrand (1903–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 29 May 2024.

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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