Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Richard Westman Challinor (1874–1951)

by D. P. Mellor

This article was published:

Richard Westman Challinor (1874-1951), chemist, was born on 26 April 1874 in Darlington, Sydney, second son of native-born parents Thomas Challinor, bootmaker, and his wife Ellen, née Westman. He was educated at Glebe Superior Public School and Sydney Technical College, where he became a laboratory assistant in August 1900 and joined the teaching staff in 1903. In 1904-05 he also attended second and third year science lectures at the University of Sydney as an unmatriculated student. On 19 September 1900 at St Barnabas's Church of England he had married Eliza Quidington Poole; she died at their Leichhardt home in 1911. At Grafton on 7 June 1915 he married Beatrice Eleanor Syer who died next year in childbirth.

By 1909 Challinor was assistant teacher and demonstrator in the department of chemistry and metallurgy at the Sydney Technical College. Next year his professional standing was enhanced when he became, by examination, a fellow of the (Royal) Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain and Ireland. From 1912 he was head teacher of organic chemistry; he expected high standards from his students and 'took a keen personal interest' in them. He was a founder and councillor of the Sydney Technical College Chemistry Society in 1913 and presided over it in 1915-16 and 1938-39.

Challinor carried out research into the chemistry of several Australian plants, in collaboration with E. Cheel and A. R. de Penfold, and published in the Technical Gazette of New South Wales and the Journal of the local Royal Society. Active in scientific societies, in 1917 he was a founder and the first applicant for membership of the (Royal) Australian Chemical Institute; in 1928-29 he was president of its New South Wales branch. He was also president of the Sydney section of the Society of Chemical Industry in 1920-22 and of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1933-34.

Closely associated with the growth of technical education in the State, Challinor played a vital role in the planning and development of the chemistry and allied diploma courses of the Sydney Technical College, following the reorganization of technical education in 1912-14 under A. C. Carmichael, Peter Board and James Nangle. By the 1930s chemistry diplomates held many senior positions in industry, and the qualification, Associate of the S.T.C. in chemical courses, was the equal of any in relevant fields in New South Wales. When he retired in 1938 he was made a fellow of the college. He practised as a consulting chemist and in 1940 became a director of the Nightingale Supply Co. Ltd. During World War II he was on the staff of the director-general of manpower in the scientific section. After the war he continued as part-time liaison officer, chemical profession, in the Commonwealth Employment Service.

Challinor died on 3 February 1951 in hospital at Waverley and was cremated after a Presbyterian service. He was survived by a son and two daughters of his first marriage and by his third wife Ethel Annie Atkinson, whom he had married at Narrabeen on 24 May 1924, and their daughter.

Select Bibliography

  • Institute for Research in Biography, Biographical Encyclopedia of the World (New York, 1946)
  • Australian Chemical Institute, Proceedings, 18 (1951)
  • Royal Society of New South Wales, Proceedings, 85 (1951)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 5 May 1938
  • printed catalogue under R. W. Challinor (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

D. P. Mellor, 'Challinor, Richard Westman (1874–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 15 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 April, 1874
Darlington, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


3 February, 1951 (aged 76)
Waverley, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.