Alexander Graham Bell Visits Henry Sutton

In 1910, Dr Alexander Graham Bell came to Australia and visited his long time fellow inventor Henry Sutton. After days of public appearances and interviews with the press in Melbourne, Dr Bell finally had time free to spend with Henry.

Dr Bell’s meeting with Henry was a private affair, which suited them both as it left them free to enjoy each other’s company free from the press who hounded Dr Bell daily for interviews.

Henry had made arrangements for them both to travel to Ballarat on the train and in August 1910 both men took the four hour journey to Ballarat. The purpose of the visit to Ballarat was so Dr Bell could view the new networked telephone system Henry had installed in his family’s music store in Sturt St.

After arriving at the Sutton family’s music store, Henry showed how he had networked his telephone system around the building, demonstrating to Dr Bell a more sophisticated telephone system than even he had seen before.

He was, of course, hugely impressed. The two men then spent time catching up on the ideas and inventions that each of them had developed over the years. After refreshments and lunch with Henry’s brother, Frederick, and his family, Henry and Dr Bell boarded the train back to Melbourne.

During Dr Bell’s visit the topic of conversation eventually turned to Henry’s current research and discoveries in wireless telegraphy which had won him world acclaim. Henry’s and Dr Bell’s work with receivers was of great importance to the eventual invention of wireless telephony which had recently been invented and Henry is believed to be the first Australian to experiment in this area.

Dr Bell’s visit and recognition was a highlight of Henry’s life as he had admired him for over 30 years.