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Campbell, Walter Scott (1844–1935)

Walter Campbell, n.d.

Walter Campbell, n.d.

State Library of New South Wales

The death of Mr Walter Scott Campbell removes one of the founders of the State agricultural policy and the last original pupil of Sydney Grammar School. Although Mr Campbell was in his 92nd year he had taken a keen interest in agriculture, natural history and horticulture up to the time of his death. Physically well preserved and endowed with a remark ably retentive memory Mr Campbell made his first trip to England at the age of 90. His last public service was quite recent when he prepared a report for the consideration of the Commonwealth Wheat Commission.

In 1877 he reported extensively on agricultural conditions in New South Wales being the first expert to indicate the dairying possibilities of the North Coast.

The son of Francis Campbell, a noted physician of early Sydney, Mr Campbell was a native of Maitland, and was born in 1844. He attended a school at Parramatta conducted by Dr William Woolls, and later became No 17 boy at Sydney Grammar School, of which he was the last surviving original pupil.

After the introduction of Sir John Robertson's Free Selection Act there was urgent need for the training of young surveyors, and Mr Campbell was one of those chosen for the work. In 1861 he joined the Government service as a temporary cadet, and 13 years later had been promoted to successive positions, until he became chief draughtsman. In 1893 he was appointed chief clerk in the Department of Agriculture and Forestry. Subsequently he was appointed chief inspector of agriculture, and in 1903 director of forests and agriculture, a position he held until his retirement in May, 1909.

It was mainly due to his efforts that the experimental farms in the county were established. He warmly co-operated with William Farrer in his wheat breeding experiments.

After his retirement, Mr Campbell conducted a mission of inquiry on agricultural prospects in the Northern Territory on behalf of the Government During a recent tour abroad, Mr. Campbell studied the methods of agriculture in other countries, and recalled to a Herald representative how, at El Cantro, on the Mexican border, he visited a Government experiment farm, and upon inquiring the name of the wheat which was growing in one of the experimental rows, he was informed to his great surprise that it was White Federation. This variety, now world famous, was evolved by Farrer in New South Wales, to take the place of Steinwedel, then largely grown in dry districts.

Mr. Campbell was a past president and Fellow of the Royal Australian Historical Society, for which, when not in his garden, overlooking Vaucluse-road and the harbour, he delighted in writing historical papers.

The funeral took place yesterday at South Head Cemetery, the Rev H. W. Varder conducting the service.

The chief mourners were Miss Campbell (daughter), and Messrs L. and P. I. Addison (nephews), and G. and R. H. Addison (grand-nephews).

Others present included the Minister for Agriculture (Mr Hugh Main), the Under-Secretary, Department of Agriculture (Mi Geo. D Ross), the Director of Agriculture (Mr A. H. E. McDonald) the ex-Under-Secretary and Director of Agriculture (Mr George Valder) who also represented the Royal Agricultural Society, Dr Bailack, Messrs Hugh Wright (Royal Australian Historical Society) D. Westgarth, M. A. A. Kirkpatrick, Alderman A. M. Samuel (representing Vaucluse Council) Dr and Mrs Ramsay Sharp, Mr and Mrs Hugh Maisie Messis W. R. Waddington and C. Houghton (Department of Agriculture), S. R. Tucker, Rev F. J. Cherry, and Mr G. M. McKeown (formerly manager of Wagga Experimental Train).

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'Campbell, Walter Scott (1844–1935)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/campbell-walter-scott-5494/text26763, accessed 25 September 2017.

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