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Akeroyd, Arthur Gordon (1890–1948)

by R. L. Southern

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Arthur Gordon Akeroyd (1890-1948), meteorologist, was born on 29 May 1890 at Shepparton, Victoria, son of William Akeroyd, a skin merchant from England, and his Irish-born wife Elizabeth Anne, née Gordon. Educated locally, and at Hamilton State School and Mr Krome's University High School, from 1905 Arthur worked as a telegraph messenger at Mooroopna Post Office. He moved with his widowed mother to Melbourne in 1907 and joined the Department of Home Affairs as a clerk next year. In 1915 he topped an Australia-wide, competitive examination for a position as an assistant (meteorologist) in the meteorological branch. As a sculler, he competed for the Melbourne Rowing Club and won several prizes. On 23 October 1920 he married Alice Lister Smith at St Andrew's Anglican Church, Clifton Hill.

Early in his career Akeroyd specialized in marine meteorology and assisted the planning of Antarctic expeditions; he later headed a forecasting section in the meteorological branch's head office and studied at the University of Melbourne (B.Com., 1930). Placed in charge of the weather bureau's climatological section, Akeroyd was appointed divisional meteorologist in charge of the Western Australia division in 1937. He held the honorary rank of wing commander in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II, and, as part of the meteorological division's activities, supervised the provision of weather forecasts for long-range aircraft, mostly Catalina flying-boats which maintained a strategic, non-stop air link between Perth and Ceylon. In this task he was aided by the young John Hogan. Referring to Akeroyd's introduction of accurate, daily, maximum temperature forecasts in 1945, an editorial in Wadaja (the bulletin of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Journalists' Association) rated him as the hero of Perth. Akeroyd's service spanned the period in which weather forecasting gradually changed from an intuitive, observational art (at which he excelled) to a soundly-based, predictive science.

A burly, balding man, Akeroyd impressed his colleagues with his business acumen, impeccable prose, personal idiosyncrasies and wit. He was an inveterate pipe-smoker who twiddled a pencil while spinning a yarn or dictating a forecast. His keen sense of individual rights reputedly sprang from resentment at being passed over for early promotions, apparently because of his youth. With a compassionate interest in his staff, he was a foundation member of the Professional Officers' Association of the Commonwealth Public Service.

Akeroyd collapsed in William Street, Perth, and died of 'coronary sclerosis' on 25 March 1948; he was buried in the Presbyterian section of Karrakatta cemetery; his wife and daughter survived him. Although he left no published work, Akeroyd had made his mark as a spokesman for the weather bureau in the daily press and as an advocate of the application of weather science to everyday affairs.

Select Bibliography

  • Wadaja, 1, no 7, Jan 1945
  • West Australian, 27 Mar 1948
  • Shepparton News, 5 Apr 1948
  • private information.

Citation details

R. L. Southern, 'Akeroyd, Arthur Gordon (1890–1948)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/akeroyd-arthur-gordon-9321/text16361, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 10 December 2018.

This article has been amended since its original publication. View Original

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

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