Harold William Clisby

The Life of a Restless Engineer

After arriving in Port, she declared to never to return back by ship again. They then set fourth some 200 miles from Port Lincoln to Streaky Bay where they stayed for at least a week. Leopold had a conference with the hotel manager with the intention of returning back to Adelaide by overland. The hotel manager told them that the journey back would be a perilous one since no one has ever travelled overland from Streaky Bay to Adelaide by car before. But with the insistence of Ethyl, there was no alternative since she stated that she would prefer stay put and live out the rest of her days in Streaky Bay than return to Adelaide by ship. So Leopold loaded up the boot of the car with provisions, fastened cans of petrol along the running boards and tied additional spare tiers to the rear. There were no roads whatsoever and he was told to follow the telegraph poles until they reached Yantanaby, which was just a primitive outback station. Upon arrival, after a slow and arduous journey, they accommodated themselves in a crude tin shack. That night, it rained continuously and leaked into their bedroom. The next morning, they left early to continue to the next station Yardi, which was a much more presentable residence. In the morning, a team of draft animals where brought out to haul the car over the sand hills. Arriving at Port Augusta, they had to negotiate the river by a pontoon toed by a motorboat. The final trip was negotiated without incident, since there was a proper macadam road for 200 miles to Adelaide.


At the age of six, Harold was given a No. 1 Meccano set for his Birthday. He was delighted by this wonderful present and became immediately hooked. Two years later, he was presented with a No. 4 set complete with an electric motor. Regularly Harold would look forward to trips to town to visit a small shop; The Globe Import Co which had a highly presentable range of sets and parts in stock. By the age of 12, Harold built a complete working motorcar chassis with a fully operating fire truck extension ladder. A photograph was taken and sent to Hornby Limited in England, Liverpool where he was surprised to be awarded a silver medal for his accomplishment and a write up in the Meccano magazine. Throughout his life he continued to use Meccano to help his experiments and inventions.


The relationship between Harold’s Mother and Father became more and more difficult. One day, they were having a typical row and Ethyl pulled out her hatpin and jabbed it at Leopold. Fortunately the needle struck his gold watch located in his left hand waistcoat pocket.

Many days when the children returned home from school, the house was regularly locked since Ethyl only considered her own daily amusement, often not arriving home till six o’clock. As they were feeling rather hungry, they use to gorge themselves on fruit from their orchard in the backyard, many a times refusing to eat their evening meals. These accuracies often caused heated rows.


Fighting between the two of them continued to a point where Leopold elected to move into a tent pitched in the back garden with his young son Harold. There they camped for 18 months, but with continuing problems, Leopold and his son Harold and his two daughters moved out to a seaside resort at the Grange, where Harold finished his education at the local school. His sisters, namely his eldest Gwen looked after him but with little success, as he was always a constant handful.

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