This is one of several pages relating to the history of the automatic totalisator, its invention in 1913, the inventor George Julius and the Australian company he founded in 1917 that became a monopoly (later an oligopoly) in this field. This page provides information on Sir George Julius and may be of interest to those chasing Julius genealogy. This is a history only non-commercial page. If you wish to start from the beginning then go to the index .

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Sir George Julius


Sir George JuliusImage of Sir George Julius

George Julius was the founder of Julius Poole & Gibson Pty Ltd and Automatic Totalisators Ltd, and during his life he gained a wide reputation as a Consulting Engineer. He invented the world's first automatic totalisator. He was the first Chairman of Australia's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, now the world-famous Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (C.S.I.R.O.). In 1929 he was knighted for his contribution to technology.



The world's first automatic totalisator Image of the world's first automatic totalisator at Ellerslie
The following information on the life of Sir George Julius has been quoted from the book From Tote to Cad published by Julius Poole and Gibson.

George Alfred Julius was born in Norwich, England on 29 April 1873. Shortly afterwards his family emigrated to Victoria when his father, the Reverend Churchill Julius clerk in holy orders, was appointed Archdeacon for the diocese of Ballarat.

From an early age, George's mechanical inclination was obvious to his parents. He had an inquiring mind and skillful fingers and loved helping his father fix clocks in the small workshop at the back of the manse.

George Julius attributed his mechanical inclination to two generations of ancestors. As reported in the Melbourne Herald (22 August 1931):

"Any inventive capacity I may have may be attributed to inheritance through two generations. My father inherited his love for mechanisms from his father, who was one of the Court physicians in London, but had such a mechanical bent that he spent what money he had in backing any invention that had wheels on it."

George Julius entered Melbourne Church of England Grammar School in 1885. After matriculating, he followed his family to New Zealand where his father had been appointed Bishop of Christchurch. Here the Bishop demonstrated his continued interest in mechanisms by going up in a bosun's chair accompanied by the local Rabbi, to lay the finial on the rebuilt cathedral spire which had been shaken down by the earthquake of 1890.

In 1890, George Julius enrolled in a BSc( Mechanical Engineering) degree course at Canterbury College, University of New Zealand. Because of the contemporary boom in railway construction, he specialised in railway engineering and was the first such engineering student to graduate from this university.



Professional Career


George Julius commenced his professional career in 1896. He went to Western Australia to accept the appointment of assistant engineer on the staff of the Locomotive Department, Western Australian Government Railways. At this time the gold boom was at its height and the Department had many railway lines under construction. George Julius worked for the Department for eleven years and was promoted to chief draughtsman and then engineer in charge of tests.

In 1898, he married Eva O'Connor, daughter of C.Y. O'Connor, a celebrated engineer from Western Australia. They had three sons; the eldest Awdry Francis ( born 1900 ) was later to become a partner in his father's firm.

While working for the Government Railways, George Julius conducted a series of tests on timber and wrote a handbook entitled Physical Characteristics of the Hardwoods of Western Australia published in 1906. He followed this with the publication of Physical Characteristics of the Hardwoods of Australia, published in 1907.

His research on hardwoods attracted a good deal of attention and led to a job offer from Allen Taylor & Co Ltd, a timber company in Sydney, as part-time engineer at an annual salary of 550 with the right to private practice. Accepting this offer in 1907 George Julius moved to Sydney, settling his family into a new home in Ocean Street Woollahra.

The following year he set up a consulting office in the Equitable Building in George Street. His practice, the first of its type in the country was immediately successful.

Automatic Totalisators


In whatever spare time he had, George Julius continued to work on the design for his automatic totalisator. Helped by two of his sons, he built a prototype in the workshop attached to his house.

George Julius' Evans and Sons Lathe George Julius' original lathe
I have added the above image which is not part of the original document. The above lathe belonged to George Julius. He used it to produce much of his early tote work including the prototype mentioned above. It now belongs to George's great grandson Tony Shellshear. Tony is engaged in a rigorous project to return this lathe to its original condition. It has already undergone a major transformation to be in the condition shown in this photograph. The lathe was manufactured by Evans and Sons of London in 1830.

However, the automatic totalisator was not originally conceived as a betting machine, but as a mechanical vote-counting machine. Julius reported:

"A friend in the west conceived the idea of getting me to make a machine to register votes, and so to expedite elections by giving the result without any human intervention. I invented one that aroused some interest, and it was submitted to the Commonwealth Government."

When the Government rejected the voting machine George Julius adapted it as a racecourse totalisator.

"Up to that time I had never seen a racecourse. A friend who knew of a "jam tin tote" - a machine which kept a sort of record of tickets sold at each window - explained to me what was required in an efficient totalisator. I found the problem of great interest as the perfect tote must have a mechanism capable of adding the records from a number of operators all of whom might issue a ticket on the same horse at the same instant."

"I set to work on a machine that would permit the simultaneous addition, give instantaneous records, and would satisfy the requirements of any racecourse."

"The model was built in my spare time, and when perfected a company was formed and secured its first order for a machine at the Auckland( Ellerslie ) Racecourse in 1913."


For more information on Automatic Totalisators go to Automatic Totalisators Limited - later ATL

During the Great Depression continuing design work on the tote kept Julius Pool & Gibson in the black when many professional firms were going under. Awdry Julius has commented:

"In 1929-33 I spent a lot of time doing design work and drawings on totes for Ascot, Canada, Chicago, Moonee Valley, Williamstown and Doomben, as well as alterations to the Randwick Tote, and additions to the Flemington and Caulfield Totes."

"I was also kept busy working on modifications to a new ticket issuer and the design of a portable machine for the United States."

The original mechanical totes were large, each one filling a machine room 10 X 10 metres. Awdry gradually took over all design work from his father and was responsible for research and development. He was elected chairman of the Automatic Totalisators Board in 1950 and was a member of the board until 1975 when the company was taken over by Smorgons Consolidated Industries, a Melbourne company.

I have added the following images here as Awdry Julius is mentioned above. These images are provided courtesy of Tony Shellshear Awdry's grandson. Awdry was presented with this medal from The Consulting Engineers Advancement Society for an outstanding contribution to Australian Engineering in 1980.

Awdry Julius' Consutling Engineers Advancement Society Medal Awdry Julius' Consulting Engineers Advancement Society Medallion front view Awdry Julius' Consulting Engineers Advancement Society Medallion back view

"Julius" Automatic Totalisators were operated until recently with the last one going out of service on 25 September 1987, at Harringay Stadium, a dog-racing track in North London.

In 2005, long after the above sentence was written I received an email from an engineer in Caracas. I was informed that the Julius tote there was still in operation. After 48 years of operation I was asked if I have any information on how to make adjustments to the system to bring it up-to-date!

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research


One of the great contributions made by George Julius to the well being of Australia resulted from his appointment in 1926 by Prime Minister S.M.Bruce( later Viscount Bruce ) as chairman to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research ( CSIR ) - forerunner of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation ( CSIRO ). Webmaster's note: George Julius was the chairman of the CSIR until retirement in 1945. At the time of his appointment Julius said:

"Time was when commercial men thought of the scientist with the faint contempt natural in the practical man for the impractical visionary - and the scientist worked at his problem, caring nothing for the application of his discoveries to commerce."

"But this has all changed with the enlistment of science as an aid to the proper governance of a country."

In its early years before acquiring its own offices, the CSIR (CSIRO) met in a room at the back of Julius Poole & Gibson's office in Culwulla Chambers. (See image of Culwulla Chambers below)

As chairman of the Council related to primary production, it was therefore decided to concentrate on five main groups of problems. These were:

  1. Animal pests and diseases
  2. Plant pests and diseases
  3. Fuel problems ( especially liquid fuels )
  4. Preservation of foodstuffs ( especially cold storage )
  5. Forest products

In the thirties Sir George Julius realised there was a need for more research work in secondary industry. Despite strong opposition from the Department of Defence to any extension of the activities of the CSIR, he presided over the establishment of a Division of Aeronautics and was appointed chairman of the important Commonwealth Committee on Secondary Industries Testing and Research in 1936. According to CSIR Chief David Rivett:

"The switch of the CSIR to secondary industry and into many aspects of defence planning probably stemmed from a visit by BHP chief Essington Lewis to Japan in 1936. He returned thoroughly alarmed at what he saw and urged the Lyons Ministry to act immediately to produce planes and fliers."

George Julius concurred. By 1938 he had convinced the Government that 143000 pounds would be needed for Aeronautical Research Laboratories to be built at Fishermans Bend near Melbourne. The Daily Telegraph, 7 April, 1945 recorded:

"Generally it is he ( Julius ) who has to battle for new funds, and getting money in lump sums is no sinecure."

"Sir George's value to the Council was in contact with politicians. He was flexible and extremely shrewd in his handling of the species Homo Politicus."

"Without his experience, ability to manoeuvre and thorough understanding of when to concede in appearance without surrendering the substance, the independent scientists might not have had so smooth a run through CSIR's first twenty years."

An Anecdote from Jim Loveday

I have often wondered what working with George might have been like. The answer to this question is well beyond the scope of this text however I found the following extract from the book From Tote To Cad a somewhat comical glimpse. Geoffrey Charles (Jim) Loveday was a partner of Julius Poole & Gibson from 1951 to 1974. By 1913 Julius Poole & Gibson had to move, this time to Culwulla Chambers in Castlereagh Street, Sydney where the office remained until 1971. It was fortuitous that George Julius had been commissioned to supervise the design and installation of the high-speed lifts in this office building designed by architects Spain Cosh & Minnett, which was Sydney's first skyscraper.

Culwulla Chambers July 2008 Culwulla Chambers
Culwulla Chambers was the home of Julius Poole & Gibson from 1913 to 1971 and the birthplace of the CSIRO.

Jim Loveday had a cheery and affable personality. He loved to tell a story of the early days when he was working under the usually strict and demanding eye of George Julius. The following anecdote took place at Culwulla Chambers.

Sir George had a buzzer installed which he used to summon us to show the progress of our work. One day the drawing I had just finished blew out of the window and floated down Castlereagh Street where it was run over by a tram. I rushed down stairs, retrieved the remains of the drawing and got back just in time to hear the buzzer sound twice which was the signal for me to present my work.

Sir George slowly eyed the mutilated drawing in my hands and simply remarked dead pan "You've made quite a mess of this drawing, Loveday, I expect to see some improvement in future".

On the subject of Culwulla Chambers, it was built to a height of 53.5 metres and featuring an intricate sandstone facade, it was a controversial building from the first.

Protests to the Sydney Municipal Council about the shadow the building cast and the inability of the fire-fighters to reach a fire in the upper storeys caused the hasty introduction of a building height limit of 45.7 metres throughout NSW.

This height limit restricted development of taller buildings until the early 1960s and so Culwulla Chambers remained the tallest building in Sydney for 50 years.

Culwulla Chambers was the home of Julius Poole & Gibson from 1913 to 1971, when extensive renovations forced the firm to vacate and move to offices in St Leonards.

The Standards Association of Australia

George Julius, William Poole and Alexander Gibson were counted amongst the number of a small but far-sighted band of engineers who in 1922 promoted the formation of the Australian Commnnwealth Engineering Standards Association (ACESA), the forerunner of the Standards Association of Australia (SAA).

When appointments to the main committees were gazetted, two representatives from Julius Poole & Gibson had been nominated. George Julius had been elected Vice Chairman and William Poole was appointed to serve on the Concrete Committee.

By 1926 when George Julius succeeded Sir George Knibbs in the Chair, there were over 250 sectional, sub and panel committees, and over 1,500 people voluntarily engaged on the preparation of specifications for standards.

One example of George Julius' imaginative leadership was his effort in 1927 to prompt the Board of Trade to convene an Empire Conference on Standardisation activities in close collaboration. From this initiative the national standards bodies of many countries of the world co-operated to form the International Standards Organisation.

On 1 July, 1929 George Julius presided over the amalgamation of the Australian Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association (ACESA) and the Australian Commonwealth Association of Simplified Practice, becoming Chairman of the new body, the Standards Association of Australia (SAA) now known as Standards Australia.

In 1972 a paper entitled "Fifty Years of Australian Standards", F.M.Matthews, Chairman of Council, Standards Association of Australia acknowledged the efforts of George Julius during the Association's early years:

No person has done more for standards in this country than Sir George Julius. He was appointed Vice Chairman (of ACESA) in 1922, became Chairman in 1926, and continued in that office until his retirement in 1939.

We are very fortunate that the ability and energy of this eminent engineer was available to the Association during the early, formative years. It was largely due to him that the wretched years of the depression were tided over.

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The Institution of Engineers Australia

By the end of World War 1 both Julius and Poole recognised the weakness of the many small and independent engineering societies each lacking interstate membership and representation, and so became closely involved with the formation of a united, Australia-wide engineering institute. In his Presidential Address in the Electrical Association of NSW in November 1918, Julius made a strong plea for support of the concept of one institution, representative of the engineering profession.

It is clear that to do any good, engineers must organise themselves. They must widen their outlook interest themselves in national and civic questions, study economics, and educate themselves and the public to better realisation of the beneficent effects of sound engineering practice.

Then, and only then, will they be able to speak with one voice and with authority, demanding and receiving that consideration for their opinion and advice that it undoubtedly deserves.

In time even we may be able to persuade the politicians that the advice of engineers may sometimes be useful, and that they ought to fill an important role in the development of such a country as Australia, if efficient results are to be obtained.

A conference of interstate delegates was held in Melbourne on 12-13 February, 1918 to select a provisional council to preside over the formation of The Institution of Engineers, Australia. This was followed by a meeting in Sydney in May, 1918, when Mr D.F.J. Harricks of the Engineering Association of NSW was elected chairman and the outline of a draft constitution tabled.

By 1 August, 1919 twelve independent societies throughout Australia had decided to amalgamate with the Institution. The problem of membership was resolved by agreeing that all persons on the membership rolls of associated societies were entitled to enrolment in the new institution.

George Julius was elected to this first Council and became President in 1925.

The Council of the Institution of Engineers Australia Council of Institution of Engineers Australia 1926
The above photo is the Council of the Institution of Engineers Australia at its meeting in Hobart in 1926. G.A. Julius President - front row centre, W.Poole Councillor - second row centre, A.J. Gibson Councillor - back row fourth from right.

Central Inventions Board


During World War II, George Julius served on the Central Inventions Board, the Australian Council for Aeronautics ( as chairman ) and the Army inventions Directorate. Again quoting from the Daily Telegraph 7 April, 1945:

"People often make the most absurd suggestions ... Someone suggested we should freeze the clouds so that no bombs would drop through. He did not say how it was to be done."

Sir George Julius remained active as a committee representative until his death.

Honours and Other Activities


In 1927 George Julius was made a member of the Commonwealth Board of Trade. He joined the Rotary Club of Sydney and was elected its president in 1932 and was appointed chairman of the Employment Trust in 1934. He also became a trustee of the Public Library of NSW in 1937, a director of Automatic Totalisators Ltd, and Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd, and a Trustee of Mutual Life & Citizens Assurance Co Ltd.

George Julius received many honours, including the highest award of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, the Peter Nichol Russell Medal in 1927. He was knighted in 1929, primarily for his work with the CSIR and received the W.C. Kernot Medal from the University of Melbourne in 1939.

I have added the following images associated with the above text, to this document courtesy of Tony Shellshear, George's great grandson.

George Julius' Peter Nichol Russell Medal George Julius' Peter Nichol Russell Medallion front view George Julius' Peter Nichol Russell Medallion back view

George Julius' Knighthood Medallion George Julius' Knighthood Medallion

George Julius' Kernot Medal George Julius' Kernot Medallion front view George Julius' Kernot Medallion back view

In 1940 he was awarded a DSc by the University of New Zealand.

Sir George Julius retired in 1945 and died on 28 June 1946.

The Sir George Julius Medal The Institution of Engineers Australia Sir George Julius Medal

The Institution of Engineers Australia remembers George Julius, with the Sir George Julius Medal, awarded for the best publication in the field of mechanical engineering.

Julius Avenue

On the 10th January 2004 I received an email from Kevin Shaw. Following is an extract -

I am active in the Ryde District Historical Society and, of course, we have the old ATL factory in our district. It is on the Ryde heritage list and when we do bus tours, we take people to see it. I was also an employee of CSIRO for 31 years without ever knowing that there was a connection between George Julius and Meadowbank. Do you know there is now a Julius Avenue at Riverside Corporate Park, the CSIRO development at North Ryde?

Kevin confirmed that Julius Avenue was named after George.

There is another Julius memorial street name. It is Julius Road in Canberra on Black Mountain.

C.Y. O'Connor

It would be remiss of me to omit making a reference to C.Y. O'Connor mentioned above. Charles Yelverton O'Connor was another of Australia's great engineers and George Julius' father in law. He was Western Australia's Department of Public Works Chief Engineer. He had to design and control construction of early infrastructure such as roads ports railways and water supply and was involved in the construction of the Trans Australian Railway. His most famous achievement is the design and construction of the Perth to Kalgoorlie water pipeline a large scale water scheme. This project to provide water to the desert outback goldfields traversing 550 kilometers started in 1898 and was the biggest water main constructed in the world. Critics thought this was an impossible feat. I have a link in the links page of this website to The Golden Pipeline A National Trust Project.

Postscript 1: In March 2011 my wife Narelle and I visited our elder son Paul in Perth. He knew of C.Y. O'Connor as his memory is well preserved there. He also knew of the Golden Pipeline and had visited Mundaring Weir, where the pipeline begins, many times. I could not resist a visit to see it for myself. We had lunch at the Mundaring Weir Hotel, where I later learnt C.Y. O'Connor had often stayed overnight. At the Weir we walked beneath it and on top of it and visited the No. 1 Pump Station which is now a museum. Inside this museum building are the boilers, economizer and one of the 3 steam driven pumping engines. The engines were Worthington duplex triple expansion engines. Each side of the engine worked 180 degrees out of phase with the other side so that when one side had its pump shaft at the end of the delivery stroke to a common non return valve, the other side was at the end of the pump induction stroke about to start its delivery stroke to the common non return valve.

C.Y.O'Connor Statue Fremantle C.Y.O'Connor Statue
Postrscript 2: In December 2012/January 2013 Narelle and I visited Paul again. We came across more O'Connor memorials. The above photograph is of the statue of C.Y.O'Connor outside the Fremantle Port Authority building. The design of Fremantle Harbour is another of C.Y.O'Connor's crowning achievements. Expert opinion at the time, 1892 held that establishing a harbour at the Swan River estuary would be problematic requiring constant dredging. Queen Victoria decorated C.Y.O'Connor for his achievement establishing Fremantle Harbour, and time has proven O'Connor's design sound. We also visited C.Y.O'Connor beach and photographed his statue there. From this beach you can see Fremantle Harbour. We also noted the existence of the O'Connor electorate and suburb of the same name and a street named O Connor Cl. During our stay in Western Australia we drove to Albany via Narrogin. In Narrogin we saw signposts which led us to buildings bearing the name "C.Y.O'Connor Institute", "Education | Training", "Narrogin Campus". We also came across similar signs to a C.Y.O'Connor Institute Campus during our drive to Geraldton.

Julius Poole & Gibson The Original Partners

Late in 1907 a young engineer moved his family from Perth to Sydney intent on starting a consulting practice in mechanical, electrical and civil engineering. He chose Sydney for his headquarters after receiving an offer of part-time employment there with the timber merchants Allen Taylor & Co, a firm he had come to know through his previous employment with the Western Australian Government Railways.

The business started by George Julius early in 1908 prospered and soon included a client list naming some of the best known businesses and government instrumentalities in NSW. George Julius at the same time became deeply involved in developing his automatic totalisator invention and being a true professional, joined the Engineering Association of NSW becoming its president in 1911.

William Poole, five years older than Julius, was from 1904 to 1912 Director of the State School of Mines at Charters Towers in Queensland. It was unlikely that Poole and Julius were then well acquainted, possibly only in passing or by reputation. Poole, however, was respected among the professional staff at Sydney University Engineering School, where he had graduated in 1900. He was an active member of the Sydney University Engineering Society and had joined the Engineering Association of NSW.

Through these activities Poole became acquainted with Alexander Gibson, a young civil engineer and naval architect, who in 1903 had been appointed lecturer in building engineering design at Sydney University and who was a member of the Engineering Association of NSW.

In 1908, when Poole was at Charters Towers, Julius and Gibson began to collaborate closely in the activities of the Engineering Association and came to have a great and lasting respect for each other.

After 1910, when Gibson was appointed Foundation Professor of Engineering at the University of Queensland, moving to Brisbane, he maintained his contact with both Julius and the Association and shared common interests with Poole as another prominent engineering educator in Queensland.

by 1912 Poole could foresee the end of the mining boom at Charters Towers. He decided to move south again, partly because the torrid environment was affecting the health of one of his children. It is not surprising then, that he turned to Gibson for references to support his applications for a number of academic positions.

He was successful in receiving an appointment as Principal and Head of the Engineering Department of the Ballarat School of Mines so he and his family moved to Ballarat in Victoria. Although he set about his new duties with enthusiasm, he was never happy in this position and unsuccessfully applied for a number of other academic appointments within the next year.

At that time Julius' practice was expanding and included a considerable volume of work of a civil engineering nature. Julius was clearly in need of an experienced engineer to help run his business and a man of Poole's reputation and connections seemed to be just the answer. Gibson was then still at the Univeristy of Queensland and although no direct evidence is available might well have acted as a catalyst to Poole's appointment because of his knowledge and admiration of both of these men.

Julius accepted Poole as a partner in May 1914 and the firm's name was changed to Julius & Poole.

Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914 there ensued a quiet period in Julius and Poole's practice except for detailed mechanical and and electrical design work on totalisator projects. It was not until 1922 that the firm rapidly expanded, commencing with a major water supply scheme for Rockhampton, Queensland and therein lies the key to Gibson's entry into the partnership.

In January 1919 Gibson had resigned his chair at the University of Queensland to take up the position of superintendent of construction for Broken Hill Proprietary Company's new steelworks then being constructed in Newcastle, NSW. His impressive reputation as a wide ranging civil and mechanical engineer had followed him from Queensland to Newcastle for , late in 1921, he had been approached by the Municipal Council of Rockhampton to enquire if he would be available to investigate the unsatisfactory water supply for that city. It was thought that Gibson could select the best scheme from several proposed over a period of many years by other engineers and authorities or recommend a suitable alternative.

Gibson advised that he was able to accept the offer of this limited consulting commission. Realising that if the right team were available he could gain a major design contract, Gibson immediately entered into discussion with his respected engineering acquaintances Julius and Poole, suggesting a joint effort through which all the skills and experience were available to handle a large water supply project.

By the end of 1921 Gibson was engaged to report on the Rockhampton water supply scheme as a partner in the firm of Julius Poole & Gibson. Immediately he handed his resignation to BHP to date from the end of January 1922.

Backed by the full support of his new partners, he set to work on a year of study which led to the adoption of his recommendations by the Rockhampton Council on 16 April, 1923 and ultimately to the completion of the scheme under his direction in 1925.

Gibson is officially recognised as joining the partnership of Julius Poole & Gibson in January 1922. The three men remained in effective partnership until Poole's death in 1929. To this day the firm continues to operate under the name Julius Poole &Gibson.

Julius Poole & Gibson since 1988

As this chapter has the most content regarding George's engineering consulting company Julius Poole and Gibson, I thought it appropriate to add this latterday information regarding this company, kindly provided by company director Max Sherrard, here. These words were written over a century after George Julius founded this engineering practice. Max Sherrard, in 1974 was a partner responsible for the structural and civil engineering departments, and Director of Julius Poole & Gibson.

The book "From Tote to CAD" was launched at a small function in early 1989 by Professor Peter Johnston, Chancellor of University of Technology, Sydney. Peter had worked at JPG as an apprentice draftsman prior to serving in RAAF during WWII. He subsequently formed a most successful architectural practice in Sydney.

Julius Poole & Gibson now occupying the two upper floors of 9 Atchison Street, St Leonards were finishing off their share of the Darling Harbour works, and attempting to adjust to the edict of the new NSW government that there was to be no more employment of "consultants" as pseudo employees within their instrumentalities. Unhappily this decision affected quite a few of our staff. In effect the work load dropped off markedly. The directors were also anxious about the future outlook for the firm with them each approaching retirement. Ultimately the bullet was bitten and it was decided that the firm would merge with Bassett and Partners.

Bassetts, though originating in Melbourne in 1934, had a similar culture and reputation to JPG.The merged firm commenced in 1992 as BassettJPG, providing the combined range of services. JPG's staff became Bassett employees and the directors were given 3 year contracts, with JPG ceasing to practice.

In 1995, Julius Poole & Gibson were invited to participate in a significant project for CSR. Consequently a working arrangement was made with Hughes Trueman Ludlow, a civil/structural firm to jointly carry out this work. This enabled JPG to resume practice in its own name as the 3 year period of embargo had elapsed.

Julius, Poole & Gibson continued regular practice until 1995. Since that time the firm has provided service in the structural area to only a few of its longstanding clients. Max Sherrard and his wife are the current directors. Frank Matthews works part-time with an architectural practice, Theo Crowley spends some time assisting his son, Mark, with his mechanical building services consultancy, while Warwick Cooney has migrated to Queensland for the better life.

Thus the firm "Julius, Poole & Gibson Pty Ltd" exists in form only, but not a shadow of its former self !!

Max Sherrard January 2010

more extracts From Tote to CAD

I have included some more extracts from the book Julius Poole & Gibson The First Eighty Years -- From Tote To CAD. I have included these extracts from the Foreword and Preface written in 1989, as they eloquently present a precis of the activity and achievements of this company and some vivid images of life within it. Following are some extracts from the Foreword in this book by Professor Peter Johnson AO Chancellor -- University of Technology, Sydney and Director -- McConnel Smith & Johnson Pty Ltd, Architects. Professor Johnson was introduced in the above section titled "Julius, Poole & Gibson since 1988" by Max Sherrard. I have added the colour emphasis which does not exist in the original text.

It is a fascinating experience to review the work of Julius Poole & Gibson as ably set out in this book, from my perspective of a long experience as an architect but having started my professional life in 1941 as a cadet engineer in the firm's office in Culwulla Chambers. Perhaps that gives me the excuse to reminisce about the partners I knew for only a year before leaving for the air force, subsequently forsaking engineering for architecture.

We, the office juniors, then knew Alexander Gibson as "AJ" -- slender and gaunt with a quiet but firm smile and manner -- and with thoughtful advice to the junior members of staff. His rather formidable four square but friendly secretary, Miss Dent, sent the cadets round the corner to Woolworths to buy sandwiches for the staff -- no doubt with AJ's approval, to ensure that they didn't get too big for their boots, developing an appropriate sense of humility early in their professional careers.

Sir George Julius was rather more remote, and in my perception anyway, less involved in the day to day activities of the office. I don't recall ever penetrating into his room. Out the back, however, beyond the normal office, there was a room with a glazed door with the gold, black-edged letters CSIR, the home of the mysterious Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, of which Sir George was Chairman. He and his elegant scholarly secretary occasionally traversed the drawing office on their way to this room, appearing to be deep in thought as they went.

I recall more vividly Joe Fry, who seemed to explode through the entrance door in the mornings on the way to his office, always with a sense of great purpose and inevitably, his coat streaming behind him as he strode along. Although he had a considerable impact on the office he wasn't then a partner -- a status he attained in 1944 after 18 years' service. In those days spurs really had to be earned!

By contrast, Awdry Julius was much quieter, reserved, usually smoking a pipe, emerging from his office at the far end of the room to come and stand in front of an intricate drawing of mechanical equipment, with all the assurance of an eastern sage. His communications to the draftsmen were conducted quietly and economically before he once again withdrew to his room. he also became a partner in 1944, but after 19 years' service! I can't remember Awdry Julius and Joe Fry in conversation together. They seemed to be on separate paths which rarely, if ever, crossed -- ships passing in the night.

There was about the office a sense of dignity and quiet purpose with voices rarely raised. It had that slightly musty but reassuring smell, developed in places where books and files and drawings have been stacked and stored in still places for many years, overlaid with wax polish and lino floors -- in contrast to today's world of rapid change, of computers and carpets and air conditioned uniformity.

There was elsewhere in the building another smaller office where Jock Tolerton presided over structural calculations and structural drawings, a place which always seemed by contrast more boisterous, more in touch with the outside world. No doubt his office was contributing to the development of the firm into its next phase.

That experience of one year was a very small taste of the work of an office which has been engaged in an extraordinary range of projects from 1908, when started by George Alfred Julius, to the present day, responding to the varying needs of the community over this time. The firm has made contributions of the highest order not only in the provision of professional services but also to scholarship in engineering, to research and to the general public good in many ways.

There are, in this account, many remarkable stories of the people who have built the firm and of the inventions, projects, universities, organisations, committees, connections, causes and ideals with which they were involved. A constant theme has been the belief in the profession of engineering, in professional values and in the need for the various professions of the building and construction industry to work closely together -- of more importance today than ever.

...

Following are some extracts from the Preface in this book by Frank Matthews, Chairman of Directors, Julius Poole & Gibson Pty Ltd. Frank was the last senior partner of the firm. Frank Matthews was introduced in the above section titled "Julius, Poole & Gibson since 1988" by Max Sherrard.

This book was written because memories grow dim and records tend to disappear. As Julius Poole & Gibson is the longest established Australian consulting engineering practice there seemed to be a duty to produce a historical record before it was too late.

Awdry Julius, son of the founder of the firm, Sir George Julius, made a start prior to his retirement in 1975. Geoffrey Charles (Jim) Loveday, also one of the second generation partners, compiled a certain amount of useful information before his death in 1975 but the enormity of the task was too ready an excuse for procrastination.

It was not until 1987 when Max Anderson's good nature was prevailed upon to research the early years of the firm's history that this project began to take shape to conincide with Australia's Bicentenary and the firm's eightieth birthday.

How George Julius, William Poole and Alexander Gibson, all such prominent but diverse personages, came into partnership began to intrigue Max.

George Julius was the ultimate colonial professional, well educated and connected, a brilliant engineer and innovator, a public figure and confidant of Prime Ministers.

Within the firm little was known of William Poole except that he had qualified and established himself as a professional engineer and at the time George Julius had started his practice was head of the Charters Towers School of Mines in Queensland.

Alexander Gibson, amazingly, had no early formal professional qualifications but had an innate engineering talent and enormous penchant for self-education. This quickly took him from an apprenticeship in a Scottish shipyard to the foundation chair of Engineering at Queensland University, at the early age of 34.

Why had these men joined forces? The discovery of personal papers and effects kept by Miss Jean Poole, William Poole's only surviving child now living in Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales, supplied some answers. These together with research done during a visit to Rockhampton helped Max to reconstruct the events leading to the formation of the long-running partnership.

Of the current directors, I now remain the sole link to any of the three founding partners. When I joined Julius Poole & Gibson as a young engineer in 1955, Sir George Julius and William Poole had of course long gone, but Professor Gibson was still a consultant to the firm and coming in to the office two or three days a week.

On my first day he called me in and introduced himself as the old and "extinguished" member of the firm. Obviously he was not altogether "extinguished" despite his 79 years because he had just married his secretary of 25 years, Miss Ann Dent.

...

At the time George Julius founded the firm in 1908 his mind was working on an idea for an "automatic totalisator", an invention which some five years later he patented. He established the company Automatic Totalisators Ltd, to design and manufacture his invention, which occupied much of his energies and that of his son Awdry over the next 50 years.

The tote, as it became known, was a mechanical machine which counted wagered money and added, divided and integrated to provide a continual computation of racecourse odds. As such it was the forerunner of today's computer which does in principle much more compactly and quickly what was done by the giant mechanical Tote.

In today's world the ubiquitous computer plays an important part in almost every business. To the consulting engineer the computer has been an important tool for more than a decade and more recently, computer aided drafting and design (CAD) has become a must for the progressive practice.

To epitomise in some way the history of Julius Poole & Gibson's 80 years in practice it seemed appropriate to use the title "From Tote to CAD".

There are so many interesting projects in "From Tote to CAD" it is difficult to select one to include some extracts here. I have chosen the Sydney Opera House as I have an association with this project. I worked on the Sydney Opera House installation and commissioning, not for JP&G but AWA (Amalgamated Wireless Australasia), a sub contractor to JP&G. AWA provided the CCTV and Audio systems for the Opera House. The chapter from which this extract originates is titled "The Sydney Opera House - 1963". Note: Utzon refers to the architect Jorn Utzon.

In the meantime Ove Arup, the structural engineers, had engaged a local firm, Macdonald Wagner & Priddle, to carry out on-site supervision of the structural work. According to Frank Matthews:
"When Utzon came to Australia, he asked Macdonald Wagner & Priddle if they could also carry out the electrical supervision. They said 'no', but they had some good friends - Julius Poole & Gibson -- who certainly could. There was a phone call to us and we had the job."

Julius Poole & Gibson were appointed secondary consultants on 1 July 1963. Frank Matthews had just become an associate after nine years of service with the firm, and was put in charge of the job.
"We were engaged by Utzon to examine the documentation prepared by Zeuthen & Sorensen, to make sure that it was written in a form that local contractors could understand, to check drawings for compliance with local regulations and ensure that proper use of Australian materials was made and then to supervise the installation work."

For the first four months Frank Matthews worked with the Danish engineer Henning Jensen, from Zeuthen & Sorensen, going through his drawings, getting to know the requirements for the vast and intricate system of electrical and electronic services.

In addition to the general electrical services, the job included electro-acoustic systems designed to provide sound amplification and distribution for the performing and public areas, signal and intercom systems for communication to performers and stage technical staff, closed-circuit television, simultaneous interpretation for congress, radio paging, PABX telephones, night watchmen patrol systems and many other electrical and electronic aids necessary for the production of the varied types of activities to be staged within the different performing areas.

For the next year, Julius Poole & Gibson refined the documentation and amended it to suit the developing architectural detail. An office was established in the prefabricated shed near the Man O'War Steps.

"Utzon was tremendously enthusiastic and a most inspiring person to work for. He was marvellous at getting people motivated."

"He gave us a thorough indoctrination early in the piece impressing upon us the high standards of design and quality of work he wanted. Finding a better way of doing something was considered part of the brief."

"The worst thing you could say to Utzon was : 'That's not how its done in Australia', or 'Doing what you suggest is going to be difficult or expensive'."

"His reply invariably was: 'We are here to nudge the frontiers of science. This is an opportunity to improve the latest technology, to develop new ideas and to test new methods and materials.'"

"On several occasions when working late at night, Utzon would come into the office and say to me: 'Frank, come with me, I want to walk around the site.'"

"As we picked our way through the spaces beneath the empty concrete shells he would wave his arms with great enthusiasm.

'I want you to imagine the sort of lighting I want. The movement of people is to be accentuated by their passing through lighting of varying intensity.'

'I want the Patrons to be able to see the harbour at night. If there is a ferry passing by, I want them to see it, so lighting in the lounges and foyers is to be arranged in a way that night views will be seen clearly without internal reflections'."

I very well remember the prefabricated sheds near the Man O'War Steps. We had our site base in similar sheds on the Circular Quay side of the Opera House

An AWA Audio Console in the Opera House Image of An Audio Console in the Sydney Opera House

From memory this photograph was taken in the Record and Rehearsal studio. There were multiple control rooms in the Opera House. Others I worked on were in the Concert Hall and Opera Theatre.

I find it uncanny how this history always seems to have connections to every avenue of interest that is pursued. In 2009 I gave a lecture to Professor Norman Heckenberg and some of his colleagues from the University of Queensland about the Julius Tote at the Eagle Farm Racing Museum. I discovered prior to this lecture that they had something in common with this history. Alexander Gibson from Julius Poole & Gibson mentioned above joined Queensland University, now known as the Uiniversity of Queensland as their foundation professor of Engineering in 1910. I informed them of this coincidence during the lecture!

Another example is an event that took place in February 2010 when I donated an electromechanical shaft adder from a Julius tote to the Monash Museum of Computing History. I subsequently read that Julius Poole & Gibson performed work at Monash University. An extract from the book "From Tote to CAD" reads:
The electrical work for Monash University was carried out in the Melbourne office over a period from 1949 to 1966, and involved design and supervision of all electrical and associated services for the university.

Another example: David Griffiths, Chair, Academic Senate and Foundation Professor of Statistics, University of Wollongong contacted me in relation to this website in April 2003. An extract from the book "From Tote to CAD" reveals a connection with Wollongong University and reads:
The University of Wollongong was created out of a college of the University of New South Wales in 1975, and had a different philosophy towards planning:

"This time our brief was to design a mix, a basic master plan, with some gridded services to give flexibility to the site. This has proved to be quite a successful solution to the planning of site services".

In addition to the planning of site services which is a continuing commission with the University of Wollongong, Julius Poole & Gibson has been responsible for the mechanical, electrical and structural engineering services for some 20 building projects.
There are some extracts from David's email in the accolades section of this website, accessible via a link after the index on the index page.

A final example. In January 1999 I received an email from the National Library of Australia informing me that this website was selected for inclusion in their PANDORA (Preserving and Accessing Networked DOcumentary Resources of Australia) project. An extract from the book "From Tote to CAD" reads:
When Mr Wadsworth arrived in Canberra he found to his dismay that no provision had been made for housing the National Library. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives made strong and repeated representations on Mr Wadsworth's behalf, and as a result the Governor-General instructed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public works to investigate the matter.

Several proposals were put before the Committee:-

"An absolutely fireproof temporary structure, consisting of angles and corrugated iron built for approximately 10,000 pounds".

"A three-story replica of the Secretariat building which would be 'harmonized in its architectural design with other buildings in the government group' and which would accommodate the library as well as provide additional office accommodation at an estimated cost 58,000 pounds".

"A monumental building with a 'greatness of structure' characteristic of Capital Cities all over the world."

In October 1961, the NCDC appointed Architects, Bunning and Madden in association with T.E. O'Mahony to design and supervise erection of the building.

Julius Poole & Gibson was appointed mechanical and electrical engineers on the project.

Mr Wadsworth is introduced in the book as the Parliamentary Librarian in 1926. Note: I have substituted the word pounds for the currency pounds symbol.


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Acknowledgements


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Comments and suggestions welcome to totehis@hotmail.com

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