BRENNAN, Louis (1852-1932)

BRENNAN, Louis (1852-1932)
son of Thomas Brennan, was born at Castlebar, Ireland, on 28 January 1852. He was taken to Melbourne by his parents in 1861, and a few years later was articled to Alexander Kennedy Smith, a well-known civil and mechanical engineer of the period. He conceived the idea of a dirigible torpedo in 1874, from observing that if a thread is pulled on a reel, the reel will move away. Brennan spent some years working out his invention, and received a grant of £700 from the Victorian government towards his expenses. In 1880 he went to England and brought his invention before the war office. Sir Andrew Clarke (q.v.) pointed out to the authorities the possibilities of the torpedo if used in the defence of harbours and narrow channels, and the patent was eventually bought for a sum believed to be over £100,000. In 1887 Brennan was appointed superintendent of the Brennan torpedo factory, and from 1896 to 1907, he was consulting engineer. He did much work on a mono-rail locomotive which was kept erect by the action of a gyrostat. From 1916 to 1919 Brennan served in the munitions inventions department. During the next seven years he was engaged by the air ministry in aircraft research work, and gave much time to the invention of a helicopter. The government spent a large sum on it, but in 1926 the air ministry gave up working on it, much to Brennan's disappointment.
In January 1932 he was knocked down by a motor car at Montreux, Switzerland, and died on the seventeenth of that month. He married in 1892, Anna Quinn, who died in 1931. He was survived by a son and a daughter. He was created C.B. in 1892.
The Times, 21 January 1932; The Argus, Melbourne, 21 January 1932; Who's Who, 1932; Debrett's Peerage, etc., 1931; P. Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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