Clifford Henry Nowell, Able Seaman (A.B.), World War I service number 1586, was born on 15 March 1894 at Camperdown, Victoria. He joined the Royal Australian Navy at the age of 18, on 15 April 1912, and served during World War I. He was stationed on the Australia from June 1913 to April 1918, then was briefly stationed in a London depot before serving on other ships. He was discharged on 19 July 1919.
During World War II Nowell served with the Civil Constructional Corps (Victoria) - number CV25362, 1942-1943.
Nowell had over 30 years experience in all branches of horticulture before working as a gardening instructor at Burnley Horticultural College in Melbourne from 1944 to 1959. He was also a well regarded specialist grower of sweet peas who successfully exhibited his flowers and ran a sweet pea seed business. He had a seed farm in Blackburn from which he hand selected seeds and then sold by catalogue from his Box Hill address in the 1930s.
The Nowell Collection was donated to Museum Victoria in 1986 by Mr Trevor Plumridge. The collection of nearly 600 items includes: gardening tools, horticultural journals, trade literature, prize certificates, notebooks, correspondence, photographs, seeds, books on gardening and poultry, as well as a few mementoes of his World War I service.