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Grimwade, Frederick Sheppard (1840–1910)

To the sorrow of an immense number of friends and acquaintances, Mr Frederick Sheppard Grimwade, surviving head of the firm of Felton, Grimwade and Co., died at his residence, Balaclava-road, Caulfield, early yesterday morning. To the outside community, Mr Grimwade’s claim to remembrance will be his greatest work, the building up of the firm which he, with Mr Alfred Felton, founded in July 1867. Few of Melbourne’s citizens have left a more enduring monument.

Mr Grimwade arrived in Melbourne in 1863. He was then 22 years of age, and took up his duties at once with the wholesale druggists, Mears, Edward, and Henry Youngman. At the end of four years Mr Grimwade married. Then, with the loss of the London in the Bay of Biscay, Mr Edward Youngman was drowned, and his brother sold the business to Messrs Felton and Grimwade. The partners built a three story building in Flinders Lane, which served them as a store for ten years. Their first factory was established in Flinders Street east, next to Burston’s malt house. There they manufactured mainly proprietary medicines. Chemical works were built for the manufacture of mineral acids. At this time drugs were dear, and acids were only carried by ships as dock cargo, and thrown overboard at the first threat of bad weather. The acid-works of the partners reduced the price of these acids, being established in Port Melbourne in 1872. The new firm, by its willingness to manufacture any chemical urgently desired, obtained a fine reputation for energy. The partners rapidly extended their business to New Zealand and the other States. In 1877 this increase of business necessitated the erection of new premises, and the building in Flinders Lane, still occupied by the firm, was completed in 1878, two new stories being added ten years later.

The Jeffcott Street factory, erected also in 1878, was built upon a site which allowed of the expansion expected by the partners. In this factory the firm manufactured, for the first time in Australia, the anhydrous ammonia required for refrigerating purposes. They did this 15 years ago. Last year they installed a liquid-air machine — the only one in the Commonwealth. The factory spread, and in 1906 the handsome Spencer Street frontage completed the block. One of the most important sections of the factory is the research laboratory, which is under the superintendence of Mr Grimwade’s son, Mr Russell Grimwade. And so, from 1863 to 1910, the great business has been growing. Mr Grimwade’s interests did not end with the business. For thirteen years, beginning in 1891, he represented the North Yarra Province in the Legislative Council, resigning in 1904 on account of ill health. He was one of the representatives of the Council on the Railways Commission, and travelled over many projected railway routes. In 1880 he was appointed one of the members of the Tariff Commission, and served on it for three years. He became chairman of the Felton Bequest Committee upon the death of his partner in 1904. He was also one of the foundation members of the Australian Club, of which institution he was president for two years. Amongst other joint industries of the manufacture of chemicals is that of the bottles in which they are sent out. So Mr Grimwade founded the Melbourne Glass Bottle Works, a great business now in itself, paying £1000 a week in wages alone. For twenty years he was chairman of the directors of the Royal Bank, the only Victorian bank which kept its doors open during the time of the depression in 1883. When, about a year ago, ill health kept him from the meetings of directors, he wished to resign, but his services had been of such value that the bank would not hear of it, and chairman of directors he remained until his death. Mr Grimwade also took an active interest in the affairs of the Anglican Church, and was largely instrumental in bringing about the erection of Holy Trinity Church, Balaclava. He was a member of the diocesan council under Bishops Moorhouse and Goe and Archbishops Clarke, and his business knowledge rendered his services particularly valuable. He was in lay canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, a governor of the Church of England Grammar School, and for many years chairman of the finance commitee. He was, besides, one of the supporters of the Church of England Grammar School at South Yarra, and to the last took an interest in its management.

A year ago Mr Grimwade’s health began to fail, and he was unable to move about with his old freedom, but nevertheless managed to transact a huge amount of business from his home. On Wednesday, a gastric attack sent him to bed. Dr Bage and Dr Mackeddie were called in, but it was not till the afternoon that they became apprehensive of fatal results. Mr Grimwade, however, became rapidly worse, and died painlessly at about 1 o’clock yesterday morning.

He leaves four sons and two daughters. His widow also survives. He had been married 45 years last month. Three of his sons, Messrs, Norton, Harold, and Russel Grimwade are members of the firm. Another, Dr A. S. Grimwade, has a practice in Geelong.

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Citation details

'Grimwade, Frederick Sheppard (1840–1910)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/grimwade-frederick-sheppard-3673/text26006, accessed 21 November 2017.

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