Charles Walter Cornford was born at Kiama, New South Wales on 29 October, 1893. He was the youngest son and seventh child of Walter and Ester Cornford. He was raised and educated along with his siblings at Kiama. After leaving school Charles started work with New South Wales Government railways, initially as a porter. His job took him away from home where he boarded with families close to his place of work. Charles was stationed at Waterfall, working as a railway signalman when he enlisted in the army in 1915, at age 21.
Charles Walter Cornford
Charles served in the Australian Army from 26 July, 1915 until the first of November, 1917. He was a driver in the 5th Machine Gun Company, 20 Infantry Battalion. He served in France, departing from Sydney on 6 September, 1915 on HMAS Ballarat. After being discharged from the army medically unfit in 1918, Charles returned to work for the New South Wales Government railways.
Kiama Independent. 23 June 1917
Charles married Ruby Hall on 15 June, 1918 at Petersham, New South Wales. They went on to have four children, Dorothy Jean, Roydon Charles, Melva Joy and Yvonne Olive between 1919 and 1934. In the early years of their marriage the family lived in New South Wales country areas where Charles was stationed with the railway.
The family returned to the Illawarra area in the early 1920’s where Charles continued his employment with the railway. He purchased land and built the family home in 1924 and lived there with the family throughout his working life and into his retirement. He spent many years working at Wollongong railway station where he went on to become supervisor of the goods shed, a position he held until his retirement.
Charles joined the Masonic Lodge in Portland, New South Wales in 1919. He was presented with his 50 years Freemasonry Medal in 1969.In 1979 he travelled to Norway to receive a medal marking 60 years as a member of the Illawarra Lodge; he was also honoured with Life Membership. Charles also served as both secretary and treasurer of the Druids Lodge for many years, retiring at the age of 90.
Community service was a big part of his life. Charles served on Wollongong Municipal Council as an alderman from 1930 to 1947, including one term as Deputy Mayor. Throughout his life he was involved in community groups. He was a Life Member of both the Wollongong Agricultural and Horticultural Societies. He exhibited both flowers and poultry at shows throughout the local area and was known for the magnificent dahlias that he grew. His garden was his pride and joy into his early nineties.
Charles passed away on 6 May, 1988 at Helensburgh after a short illness, at age 94. His life was celebrated at a service at Wesley Uniting Church, Wollongong where he was a long standing member of the congregation. Following his funeral service Charles was cremated and laid to rest at the Wollongong Memorial Gardens.