Forwood, Walter Weech - I20165

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Deck crew 
Walter Weech Forwood
Jan 1846 – 1926
Nationality  English
Born Jan 1846
Stepney, London
Died 1926
Genealogy Data
Person ID I20165
Birth Family
Forwood Family - F19186
Father Frederick Forwood 
(1808 – Jun 1882)
Mother Eliza Adams
Marriage Family/Families
Forwood Family - F19187
Spouse Harriet Ann Frewin
Nationality Unknown
Married May 1872
St Margaret's Church, Woodville, South Australia

Charles Forwood (b. 1874)
Mary Forwood (b. 1876)
Nellie Forwood (b. 1877)
Frank Forwood (b. 1879)
Alfred Forwood (b. 1881)
Edgar Forwood (b. 1883)
Reginald Forwood (b. 1885)
Annie Forwood (b. 1887)
Voyage Data
Voyage to Adelaide in 1864
Personal role Boy
Name on list Walter Weech Forwood
Age on voyage 18
Last ship Renown
Joined date 06 Aug 1864
Joined place London
Left date 21 Nov 1864
Left place Adelaide
Left reason Discharged

One of the youngest members of the City of Adelaide's crew on her 1864 maiden voyage was 18 years old Walter Forwood. Finding himself stranded in London, he managed to sign on with Captain David Bruce in August to work his passage home, and he was discharged by prior agreement when the ship reached Port Adelaide in November.

His father Dr Frederick Forwood (1808-1882), had been born at Southwark in London, and graduated in medicine from St Bartholomew's Hospital Medical College. He married Eliza Adams in 1832 and they had several children including Walter. After practising as a surgeon for some years in London, Dr Forwood migrated with his wife and family to South Australia on the President Ram in mid 1853. He practised in Adelaide and Unley initially, then in the Port Adelaide area from 1856 until he died in June 1882.

Walter Weech Forwood (1846-1926) was born in January 1846 at Stepney in London, a son of Dr Frederick Forwood and his wife Eliza née Adams. After arriving in Adelaide with his parents and family at the age of 7, he was educated at the private school of Rev. P. Mercer in Port Adelaide. Because his mother's family had financial interests in shipping, it was always intended that he would “follow the sea”.

He was apprenticed to a captain who had been in his uncle's employ for several years. After he had served portion of his time, mainly on the coast of China, his ship was ordered to return to London following the drowning of the captain. Walter was given his discharge there, but he found it extremely difficult to obtain re-employment on a ship, and was grateful when Captain Bruce agreed to help him return home.

He had been impressed by the high wages of mechanics on the Asiatic coast, and he decided to become an engineer instead of a sailor. On 1st March 1865 he joined Colonial Ironworks in Adelaide as an apprentice, served his time, and became a journeyman in the foundry. The company was a small one, occupying two brick and three wooden shops with a total frontage of 63 feet on Hindley Street, and the plant was old-fashioned, even for those days.

The proprietor died, and after the new owner failed to make the business thrive, the staff attempted without success to run it as a co-operative. The trustee then offered the works to Walter Forwood who accepted the responsibility. With his fellow workman Thomas Down, he founded the firm of Forwood, Down & Co in 1873, and it prospered.

Walter Forwood married Harriet Ann Frewin in May 1872 at St Margaret's Church, Woodville, and they lived at ‘Moorings' on Esplanade South at Henley Beach. Their children were Charles 1874, Mary 1876, Nellie 1877, Frank 1879, Alfred 1881, Edgar 1883, Reginald 1885 and Annie 1887.

A boom in gold mining in the Northern Territory turned the firm's attention to mining machinery, and with this heavy demand the firm had to expand. The area of the works was increased, and Walter travelled to Victoria to purchase modern machine tools. The Northern Territory boom waned, but was replaced by new discoveries in Western Australia. Forwood Down & Co was registered as a limited company in 1897, and when Down died, Forwood bought his shares and distributed them among his own family. With each of his five sons managing a department or a branch, he built in the Adelaide suburb of Kilkenny one of the largest engineering works in Australia. He invented and patented new machinery for mining, and his products were sold throughout the world. By 1900 he had a second ironworks at Kalgoorlie.

He also made structural ironwork and his bridges spanned the Gawler-Angaston and Brighton-Willunga railways, the Millswood subway and many projects of the Roads Board Department. Into the 20th century, the firm's steel girders were used in many major and multi-storey buildings. The firm extended their boiler making, plate work, general engineering and iron founding, especially for motor building factories.

Active in civic affairs, Forwood was a member of the Adelaide City Council for sixteen years, eight of them as a councilor, eight as an alderman, and ten as chairman of the works and highways committee. He represented the council on the Municipal Tramways Trust. In 1908 he represented South Australia as a commissioner at the Franco-British Exhibition in London. He became President of both the South Australian Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Chambers of Manufacturers of Australia, a member of the Federated Employers' Council, and a councillor of the Royal Agricultural Society. On the outbreak of war in 1914 he was appointed to the Coal Board, and to the State War Council as an adviser on the manufacture of munitions, and in 1916 he visited Canada and America in that capacity. He was also a prominent member of the Duke of Leinster Lodge.

Returning from another visit to America in a poor state of health, he died at a private hospital in Sydney NSW at 80 years of age in November 1926, and he was buried in the North Road Cemetery in the Adelaide suburb of Nailsworth. He left an estate worth £42,000 to his three daughters and three surviving sons. Walter Forwood's inspirational life had been “an object lesson in what knowledge, perseverance and pluck can accomplish”.


Australian Dictionary of Biography