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Photo of Arthur Thomas Stanley Sissons

Arthur Thomas Stanley Sissons

Research Scientist
Birthplace Victoria Malvern AustraliaPlace of Death Canberra Australia Date of Birth: April 22, 1888 Date of Death: June 30, 1975


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : Arthur Thomas Stanley Sissons. 

Gender: Male. 

Date and Place of Birth: 22nd April 1888 in Malvern, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. 

Date and Place of Death: 30 June 1975. Griffith, Canberra, Capital Territory, Australia. 

Nationality: Australian. 



Childhood: He grew up at Brunswick. 

Parents: His father was Alfred Francis Sissons and his mother was Annie Sissons (nee Stanley). 

Parent’s occupations: His father was a draper who became a builder and real-estate agent. There is no information for his mother’s occupation. 

Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: Educated at Moreland State School, at Thomas Palmer’s University High School, and at the Continuation School, he began teaching in 1907. He attended (1908-09) the Melbourne Training College (where he was Gladman prize-winner), joined (1910) the staff of the new University Practising (University High) School and studied at the University of Melbourne (B.Sc., Dip.Ed., 1915). 

Occupation: Chemist, pharmacist, pharmacy college head and schoolteacher. He was Dean of the Victorian College of Pharmacy for 42 years, from 1920 until 1962. 

Place of residence at Gretna: N/A. 

Job title at Gretna: Research Scientist. He worked there from 1916 to 1920. 

Marital status: Married to Jessie Taylor Tope, 15 September 1916. At Scots Church, Melbourne. 

Children: He had two sons. 

Travels: Gretna (1916-1920). 

Awards/recognitions: A mural by Leonard Annois in the main hall of the College of Pharmacy, Monash University, commemorates his work. The college holds Laurence Pendlebury’s portrait of Sissons. 

He returned to Australia in 1920 to be appointed head of the Victorian College of Pharmacy, making him the first ever Australian-born head of a pharmacy school. He initiated wide-ranging reforms to the college’s curriculum, introducing a number of new subjects and extending the course to four years in length. 

Sissons was a gifted teacher, who was loved and admired by the students of the college. By the time of his retirement in the early 1960s, he had taught more than two-thirds of Victoria’s practising pharmacists. The Sissons Mural at the College of Pharmacy – reportedly the largest mural painting in Australia – commemorates his immense contribution to pharmacy. The college also holds L. Scott Pendlebury’s portrait of Sissons. At Melbourne Training College he was the Gladman Prize winner. 

He won two prestigious Gladman Memorial Exhibitions – one for the greatest academic achievement and the other for excellence in practical teaching and class organisation. 

Trivia / any other information:  

Sissons contributed articles on the history of pharmacy to the Australasian Journal of Pharmacy. His love of literature, especially the Romantics, influenced his historical writing, but not his scientific prose. A preference for Romanticism was also evident in his appreciation of music. 

He was cremated. 

Perhaps Sissons’ most enduring legacy was as a teacher. ‘A. T. S.’ (or ‘Sisso’) and Jessie were beloved by many students. The couple attended the weddings and reunions of former pupils, kept scrapbooks recording their careers, and sent parcels to those on active service in wartime. Following his retirement in 1962, she spoke of their forty-two years at the college happily immersed in ‘the stream of youth that we have been able to enjoy’. By then he had taught more than two-thirds of Victoria’s practising pharmacists, seen several expansions of the college, and supervised its move to Royal Parade, Parkville, in 1960. 

In Gretna, he accidentally inhaled nitrogen peroxide gas, which affected his health for the remainder of his life. 

During World War II, Sissons worked as part of a team of scientists providing emergency medicines for the Government’s Medical Equipment Control Committee. Continuing his previous obligations, Sissons’ team was forced to work during the evening, often well past midnight, leaving Sissons to walk home to get a few hours sleep before classes the next morning. 

He also wrote a number of articles, which I have included links to in the bibliography. 

Mr Sissons was tireless in keeping up correspondence within numerable students as they went into retail practice, hospital practice and other professional fields. During World War II he maintained contact with many men in the field. He was elected Honorary Member of the Chemists Sub-branch of the Returned & Services League (RSL) as a token of gratitude from returned servicemen, for whom he did so much in assisting with their rehabilitation after the war. 

Knutr Benoit has also written a book about him, which primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia and other free online resources. 


  • Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):  
  • J. E. Neild, pharmacien, médecin, chimiste et journaliste à Melbourne: A. T. S. Sissons, James Edward Neild, M.D. 1824- 1906, foundation member, Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria, and honorary member 1867-1906, in Australasian J. of Pharm, 1968. 
  • Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher): A.T.S Sissons (ed.) K. Benoit. Published 17th August 2011. 


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