Rowland Walker

ROWLAND Walker, who has died aged 88, was a former Master Cutler who was always keen to promote new businesses in Sheffield and the wider region.

He was a successful businessman who, with a few friends founded Rotary Electrical in 1952, a motor rewind and repair service which was to become the leading worldwide specialist in power generation.

Mr Walker, who headed the business until he retired in 1992, was known as a caring employer.

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The company started out rewinding small motors, progressing to larger one and then manufacturing machinery used by motor rewinders worldwide. Among their leading customers were London Transport, major power stations and the National Coal Board.

Mr Walker helped to build the company by keeping up with the latest developments in the industry across the world and would travel to Leipzig, then in East Germany, the United States and Japan, in order to take them to Rotary’s expanding works, off Infirmary Road, Sheffield.

He was born in Barnsley, and educated at Ecclesall Church of England School leaving at 14 to become an apprentice armature winder with W E Burnand, a company Rotary was to take over in 1990.

At the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the Fleet Air Arm as an electrical air mechanic and served in Egypt and America, rising to the rank of petty officer.

When the war ended he returning to the city where he completed his apprenticeship before becoming a manager, working in Sheffield and Northampton, which equipped him with the skills to launch Rotary.

In later life he became president of the Association of Electrical Machinery Trades, and was the first non-American to be president of the Electrical Apparatus Service Association based in St Louis.

In 1980 Mr Walker established the Future Enterprises organisation to promote new businesses in the region.

He was made an Honorary Fellow of Sheffield Hallam University in 1979 and was awarded an OBE three years later.

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

He was a founder governor of Stannington College, Sheffield, 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.

Mr Walker is survived by his wife, Shirley, son, Ian, and four grandchildren.