John Harry Grainger: Architect and Civil Engineer
Ill Health and Separation
In 1890, Grainger experienced some sort of breakdown. Percy believed he suffered from delirium tremens from excessive use of alcohol as well as nicotine poisoning. Writing to Amy Black, Grainger spoke of being ‘disturbed in mind and body’. Following his doctor’s orders he ceased working and set out for England on the S.S. Oruba. This put a virtual end to an already failing marriage and kept him permanently separated from his child.
Grainger visited family members in England – possibly with intentions of reconciliation. He may not have achieved this outcome as he bought a return passage to Australia on the same vessel. Deck life appears to have agreed with him as his health returned to normal.
During the first half of the 1890s Grainger led a transient life and professionally it was a lean period. In 1892 he is recorded as winning a prize for the design for the Hamley Buildings in Adelaide, but the following year he was working at Hill River Cattle Station near Clare in South Australia, remodelling woolsheds. By 1896 he was living in rough conditions in Kalgoorlie supervising the construction of processing plants for gold mining.