Past Master dies aged 88

Rotary Electrical Chairman Rowland Walker in his office at the firm in 1996.
Rotary Electrical Chairman Rowland Walker in his office at the firm in 1996.
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Past Master Cutler Rowland Walker, who has died aged 88 was a successful businessman and a kindly man who always had Sheffield’s best interests at heart and was widely involved in the region.

Rowland Walker was founder of Rotary Electrical and headed the business until retiring in 1992.

The company started out rewinding small motors, progressing on to bigger motors and then manufacturing machinery used by motor rewinders worldwide.

Prestigious customers included London Transport, major power stations and the National Coal Board.

Always keen to keep up with the latest developments in the industry, and bring them to Rotary’s expanding works, off Infirmary Road, Mr Walker travelled to Leipzig, then in East Germany, the USA and then Japan.

He became president of the Association of Electrical Machinery Trades and the first non-American to be president of the St Louis-based Electrical Apparatus Service Association.

Away from business he was a founder governor of Stannington College, a governor of Sheffield City Polytechnic and a judge for the Young Engineer of Britain Award Scheme and the Prince of Wales Award for Industrial Innovation and Production.

In 1980, he established Future Enterprises to promote new businesses in the Sheffield region, particularly new technology businesses, and was made an Honorary Fellow of Sheffield Hallam University before receiving an OBE in 1982.

Mr Walker became Master Cutler in 1987 and was granted the Freedom of the City of London in 1988, when he also became a director of the Sheffield Development Corporation, set up to regenerate the Lower Don Valley.

He was born in Barnsley, educated at Ecclesall Church School and began his work aged 14 as an apprentice armature winder with WE Burnand, a company Rotary was to take over in 1990.

He joined the Fleet Air Arm as an electrical air mechanic in 1939 and served in Egypt and America during World War II, rising to the rank of petty officer.

Returning to Sheffield after the war, he completed his apprenticeship and became a manager, working in Sheffield and Northampton, which equipped him with the skills to join forces with some friends to launch Rotary.

He leaves a wife, Shirley, son, Ian, daughter-in-law Cathryn and four grandchildren – Nicola, Sarah, Benjamin and Jonathan.

A funeral service will be held at All Saints Church, Ecclesall at 2pm on Tuesday. The family is asking for donations to the Alzheimer’s Society in lieu of flowers.