• Geelong Town Hall. Geelong was home to Australia's first ice works.
    Geelong Town Hall. Geelong was home to Australia's first ice works.

The Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) is celebrating James Harrison Day by encouraging everyone in the refrigeration industry to spare a thought for the Australian who invented commercial refrigeration 170 years ago.

James Harrison Day is celebrated each year on 17 April, the day Harrison was born in Scotland in 1816, and the beginning of a remarkable life as a publisher, stateman and inventor.

ARC chief executive officer Glenn Evans said it was fitting that everyone in the refrigeration sector, especially in Australia, recognised the monumental role Harrison played in establishing the industry.

‘James Harrison is a towering figure in refrigeration and was prominent in media and civic life in Victoria in the 19th century,’ he said.

‘Yet he is not well known outside our industry, or indeed outside Geelong, where he invented his ice making machine, which is often attributed to people on the other side of the world.

‘ARC is keen to correct this misunderstanding and give Harrison the recognition he deserves, and we join with people in his hometown, especially the National Trust, to celebrate his life.’

Harrison invented his successful ice making machine in Geelong in 1854 and perfected it in London in 1857 before returning in 1858 to set up Australia's first ice works in North Geelong.

This will be a big year for Harrison celebrations, as the Geelong and Region Branch of the National Trust (GRBNT) will be staging a series of commemorative events around World Refrigeration Day in June.