Walter Cornell

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Walter Cornell, c1890.
Walter Cornell c1904. Private Collection
W. Cornell's premises, Ballarat, 1898. Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 4826)

Walter Cornell was a chemist who established a business in 1874. In 1938 his business W. Cornell was situated on Sturt Street, Ballarat. The business was the largest manufacturing drug and chemical house of its kind in Australia at the time. Among the proprietary articles manufactured included British Empire Baking Powder, Hosking's Eye Ointment, Cornell's Ginger Beer Powder, vinegar, cordials and perfumery.[1]



Cornell was born in Rochester, Kent, England. He apprenticed as a chemist at the neighbouring town of Chatham. In 1860, at around the age of 20 years he arrived in Victoria and moved to Ballarat and secured employment with Wayne and Brind, wholesale and retail druggists of Ballarat. He became the proprietor of W. Cornell in 1886.[2] Walter Cornell died in 1905.[3]


116 Sturt Street, Ballarat. [4] (now 402 Sturt Street - Ballarat Real Estate)


That the late Mr Walter Cornell. Cornell, chemist, of Sturt street, was held in high esteem was evidenced by the huge attendance of representative gentleman who took part in the funeral cortege yesterday morning. The remains of the deceased gentlemen were interred in the Ballarat Old Cemetery. The coffin bearers were the past and present employees of the deceased, viz, Messrs R. M. Leckie, C. W. Whitehead, A. J. Rushbrook, and F. H. Ware, while the pall bearers were Messrs C. Eyres, R. G. Middleton, W. Coltman, A. A. Buley, W. Westcott, D. Cooke, J. R. Langsford, H. Brind, J. M'Leod, and Dr Steel. The Rev. Henry Bath officiated at the house and graveside, while Messrs Jordan and Tippett carried out the mortuary arrangements.[5]

Last night at the Lydiard street Methodist Church the Rev. Henry Bath conducted a service in memoriam of the late Mr Walter Cornell. Prior to beginning his sermon the rev. gentleman said: The life of the late Mr Walter Cornell was an illustration of the truth of the of quoted saying of Solomon, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it" It did net present the striking features manifested in the lives of some but alike in its spiritual and general development rather resembled the picture drawn by the Psalmist of "a tree planted by ten rivers of water bringing forth its fruits in due season." Mr Cornell was born in the ancient cathedral city of Rochester, England, on the 25th June, 1840. The child of pious and loving parents, he inhaled the atmosphere of Christianity almost with his last breath, and in connection with his seven brothers was carefully trained both in the knowledge of the Scriptures and reverence for their Divine teaching. At the same time in the consistent lives of his parents, and in their well-ordered and happy home life, he saw the spirit of true living on exemplified in some of its most attractive aspects. The impressions thus made on his opening mind were deepened by the peaceful and happy death of his eldest brother Charles, which occurred when the subject of this notice was about eight years old. His father being a man of strong common-sense, as well as fervent piety, naturally took a leading part both in official and spiritual work of the church in the Rochester circuit, having the charge of two society classes, as well as being Sunday school superintendent. His house was always open to the ministers, and he and his like-minded wife delighted to entertain the preachers who visited the town at the district meetings and on other special occasions. The children shared in the enjoyment of these visits, which brought a blessing with them, and grew up with feelings of regard almost amounting to reverence for their ministers missionaries especially—feelings which influenced them in all their after lives. A good foundation for Christian character was thus laid, and young Walter early set himself to seek the God of his father. He had felt the Holy Spirit’s drawings from the dawn of intelligence, his religious convictions deepening as he grew, and at the age of 16 he found peace in believing in Christ as his Saviour. This faith remained with him throughout life, perhaps with some fluctuations during his early manhood, but steadily strengthening in his maturer years. He served his apprenticeship in the adjoining town of Chatham to the trade which he followed all his future life, that of a chemist, and in 1860, when he had just entered on his 21st year, left his native land to join some of his elder brothers who had preceded him to Melbourne. It was a final farewell to his father, who died about 13 mouths after, leaving to his children a memory which enabled them better to realise the form of the inspired words, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him." After spending some months in Melbourne in temporary employment, Mr Cornell obtained an engagement in Ballarat, of which he was a resident till his death, a period of over 48 years. He entered into business on his own account in about 1877, and two years later was married to her who now mourns his loss. God gave him 26 years of domestic happiness, and "children like olive plants round about his table and in its other relations he passed his life with comparative evenness, beloved by his family and friends, diligent and trusted in his business, valued as a citizen, and respected by all who know him. He had his share of anxieties, but these were met and borne in reliance on his Heavenly Father. Without being in the ordinary sense a public man, he took a lively interest in the welfare of his adopted city, and in public affairs generally, and his upright and consistent life exerted a powerful influence for good. He was a loyal Methodist, and cheerfully gave his services and ref his substance to the church he loved. In boyhood and manhood alike, at home or abroad, he was ever a favorite with his fellows, and his natural gifts—improved by grace—of geniality and humor made his company always enjoyable. He was notably free from the spirit of self exaltation, and while “he did justly, and loved mercy, he walked humbly with his God." He was called to lay down the active duties of life without any long warning, but he was found ready, and his house in order. Heart disease, culminating in paralysis, was the messenger sent to summon him home, and in a very few weeks his Lord “received him unto Him-self." The nature of his illness precluded dying testimony, but it was not needed—his life spoke for him, and the loved ones he left in his home, as well as his numerous friends, realise even in their grief that “the memory of the just is blessed.” In this church he held various positions of usefulness, as trustee, poor steward, society steward, and also, circuit steward, and in them all he enjoyed tho confidence, respect, and love of his brethren. Subsequently Mr Bath preached from Proverbs xiv., 14 — “A good man shall be satisfied with himself and remarked that everybody recognised goodness in itself. It did not need to be advertised any more than did a rose. Everybody recognised the grace of form and delicacy of color in a rose, and one had only to mention a rose to identify it. So also , was a good man recognised by all who knew him. It was quite right to say that Mr Cornell was a good man. He took his goodness into his domestic life, his citizenship, and his business. There was the satisfaction of goodness that brought a man peace and joy, and a man could not have peace or rest or true joy with out satisfaction, A man, might not al ways be satisfied with his realisation of his own ideal, though the ideal itself might be satisfactory. A man created his own environment by his influence on others. Life was reproductive, and heaven was created by what we took into it.[6]


Mary Cornell, c1904. Private Collection


CORNELL.—On the 21st October, at her residence, 28 Webster street, Ballarat, Mary Elizabeth, widow of the late Walter Cornell, in her 76th year.[7]

See also

Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Product Manufacturing

Henry Brind

W. Cornell

Cornell & King


On visiting the fine pharmacy of Mr Walter Cornell, at the corner of Sturt and Doveton street, the most prominent feature at present is the splendid assortment of good perfumery in presentation cases. Mr Cornell has for some years past made a speciality of importing the finest productions of the lending English and French makers of perfumes, in bulk. The (great advantage to the purchaser is that one has the opportunity of sampling the perfume before buying, and in addition gets nearly, double the quantity for the same money, and in most cases, better perfume. Mr Cornell is giving free to each purchaser of Christmas goods one of his handsome art calendars for 1910, also a perfumed card of some of the latest productions of the leading English, perfumers.[8]


  1. One Hundred Years: Official Programme and history of Ballarat for its Centenary Celebrations, 1938.
  2. Kimberly, W.B. (1894). Ballarat and Vicinity. Ballarat: F.W. Niven & Co.
  3. Ballarat Businesses: Built on Tradition: A special Courier publication, c1996.
  4. Correspondence dated 1898 held by Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 18140).
  5. Ballarat Star, 23 March 1905.
  6. Ballarat Star, 03 April 1905.
  7. The Argus, 22 October 1928.
  8. Ballarat Star, 23 December 1909.

Further Reading

Smith, James (Ed) The Cyclopedia of Victoria, Vol.II : An Historical and Commercial Review. Victoria: F.W. Niven & Co., 1904.

External links

--S.Singaram 14:47, 22 December 2011 (EST); --Clare K.Gervasoni 15:08, 11 May 2019 (AEST)

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