Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Frederick Percival Kneeshaw (1883–1955)

by Arthur Corbett

This article was published:

Frederick Percival Kneeshaw (1883-1955), engineer and company director, was born on 6 August 1883 at Leeston, Canterbury, New Zealand, son of John Kneeshaw, stationmaster, and his wife Annie Elena, née Glasson, both Victorian born. His father's appointment in 1890 to the New South Wales railway service, where he became in 1900 tramway manager, brought the family to Sydney. Frederick was educated at Sydney Technical College and as a cadet in the tramways, where he became assistant engineer in 1904.

After Kneeshaw joined Noyes Bros (Sydney) Ltd in 1909 he was chief engineer for several years before enlisting as a gunner in the Australian Imperial Force in October 1914. Commissioned in January 1915 and promoted captain in the 5th Field Artillery Brigade in October, he served in Egypt, France and Belgium. In January 1917 he was mentioned in dispatches and promoted major in the 6th Field Artillery Brigade. After being wounded in Belgium in July, he was invalided to Australia in November. His appointment with the A.I.F. terminated in February 1918.

Kneeshaw was appointed general manager of Kandos Cement Co. Ltd in 1922, and was also general manager of Kandos Collieries and of Australian Portland Cement Co. Pty Ltd. His directorships included Australian Portland Cement Pty Ltd, Cable Makers Australia Pty Ltd, Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd and Parkinson (Australia) Ltd. Active in support of the development and protection of local industry, he was a councillor of the Employers' Federation of New South Wales, president of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures in 1935-37 and of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia in 1937. During this period he was a persistent critic of the clauses of the Ottawa Agreement that gave concessions to British manufactures. Elected president of the Australian Cement Manufacturers' Association in 1938 and appointed to the Commonwealth Advisory Panel on Industrial Organization in 1939, Kneeshaw was also on the council of the Standards Association of Australia. A council-member of the United Australia Party in 1932-34, he was elected in December 1933 to the reconstituted Legislative Council of New South Wales where he spoke frequently on a wide range of issues until his retirement in 1949.

Kneeshaw represented the New South Wales section of the Electrical Association of Australia at the first council-meeting which formed the Institution of Engineers, Australia, in 1919 and in January 1920 was elected the first chairman of the Sydney division. He served on the council in 1923-44 and as president in 1938. Appointed O.B.E. in 1938, he was chairman in 1941-43 of the Australian Shipbuilding Board which was attached to the Department of Munitions.

A solidly built, gregarious bachelor, Kneeshaw accepted any forum which gave him an opportunity to express his carefully formulated opinions. He took a keen interest in the Boys' Brigade. A member of the Australian Club, Sydney, and the Athenaeum Club, Melbourne, he lived at Turramurra. He died on 3 February 1955 of hypertensive heart disease and was cremated with Presbyterian forms. His estate, valued for probate at £45,440, was left to his sister and her family.

Select Bibliography

  • Institute of Engineers Australia, Transactions, 1 (1920), and Journal, 10 (1938), 27 (1955)
  • New South Wales Railway and Tramway Magazine, Dec 1920
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 18 Dec 1933, 5 Sept 1935, 17 Dec 1937, 9 June 1938, 7 Mar 1941, 5 Feb 1955.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Arthur Corbett, 'Kneeshaw, Frederick Percival (1883–1955)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 17 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


6 August, 1883
Leeston, New Zealand


3 February, 1955 (aged 71)
New South Wales, Australia

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