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Biographical entry Grimwade, Wilfrid Russell (1879 - 1955)


15 October 1879
Caulfield, Victoria, Australia
2 November 1955
Chemist, Business executive and Pharmaceutical manufacturer


Sir Russell Grimwade was a partner and research director in Felton, Grimwade & Co, which later went on to become Drug Houses of Australia. He was a keen botanist who served as the official botanical adviser to the Army Department during World War II. Grimwade was also a philanthropist who donated large sums of money to numerous scientific and heritage organisations and was heavily involved in the advancement of science research in Australia. His name was commemorated by the Western Australian orchid Prasophyllum grimwadeanum, now called Prasophyllum giganteum. Grimwade was the son of Frederick Sheppard Grimwade who was a co-founder of Felton Grimwade & Co. - Australia's biggest drug house during the 1800s - and founder of many other manufacturing companies including the Melbourne Glass Bottle Works.


After graduating with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) from the University of Melbourne, (Sir) Wilfrid Russell Grimwade went to England to observe new advances in chemistry. On his return he joined his family run firm of Felton, Grimwade & Co as director of the newly established research laboratory. Grimwade was made a partner of the in 1907 and in 1929 the firm amalgamated with Duerdin & Sainsbury to become Felton Grimwade and Duerdins Pty Ltd (later known as Drug Houses of Australia (Victoria) Pty Ltd).

Grimwade was also a keen botanist, especially of the eucalypts and was the Official Botanical Adviser to the Army Department during World War II. When drugs were in short supply during this period, he grew and processed a number of important plant sources at his country home "Westerfield" in Victoria; he also developed a process for extracting fixed oil from apricot kernels to replace olive oil and manufactured hyoscine.

A generous philanthropist, Grimwade gave £50,000 to the University of Melbourne towards the building of the Russell Grimwade School of Biochemistry; £20,000 to the Commonwealth Forestry and Timber Bureau (£5,000 in 1929 and £15,000 in 1954) for the Russell Grimwade Prize for "the encouragement of scientific forestry"; £10,000 to equip the Forest Products Laboratory in Victoria; and in 1934 donated Captain Cook's Cottage to the Fitzroy Gardens and the people of Melbourne.

Sir Wilfrid Grimwade was also heavily involved in many societies and organisations including being President of the Society of Chemical Industry of Victoria in 1909 and 1910, Chairman of the Australian Chemical Institute (1946-47), Chairman of the Trustees of the National Museum of Victoria; President of the Australian Forest League, Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute; and a member of the advisory committee for the Botanic Gardens. He is commemorated by the Russell Grimwade Lecture of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.


Education - Bachelor of Science (BSc) completed at the University of Melbourne
c. 1902
Career position - Toured chemical works in London
Career position - Joined the family business of Felton, Grimwade & Co. as director of the new research laboratory
Career position - Became a partner in Felton, Grimwade & Co.
1909 - 1910
Career position - President, Society of Chemical Industry of Victoria
1920 -
Career position - Chairman of Australian Oxygen and Industrial Gases Pty Ltd
Career position - Felton Grimwade and Duerdins Pty Ltd established
Career position - Donated Cook's Cottage (located in the Fitzroy Gardens) to the people of Victoria as a centenary gift.
1935 -
Career position - Board member of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Award - Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
1937 -
Career position - Member of the Board of Drug Houses of Australia Ltd
1938 -
Award - Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (FRACI)
Career position - President of the chemistry section of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science
c. 1940 - c. 1945
Career position - Official Botanical Adviser to the Army Department during World War II
1942 - 1948
Career position - Chairman of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
1946 - 1947
Career position - Chairman, Australian Chemical Institute
Award - Knighted
Award - Honorary member of the British Medical Association

Related People

Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Australian Botanists - Biographies, MS 064; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • Drug Houses of Australia Ltd. - Records, 1867 - 1969, 75/72; The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Grimwade, Russell, An Anthology of the Eucalypts (Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1920). Details

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Grimwade, Russell, 'Oxygen and its use in engineering (Lecture & Discussion)', Proceedings of the Victorian Institute of Engineers vol. X (1910), 45-49, 77-81. Details


See also

Rosanne Walker & Annette Alafaci