Walford Robert Dowling, son of Richard Dowling and his wife Susanna, was a member of the (British) Institution of Mining and Metallurgy and practiced as a metallurgist on the Witwatersrand. By 1905 he was cyanide manager at the Robinson Deep Gold Mining Company in Johannesburg. He became a member of the Chemical and Metallurgical Society of South Africa (from 1902 the Chemical, Metallurgical and Mining Society of South Africa) in 1894, the year of its formation. After serving on the society's council from 1906 he was elected joint vice-president for the year 1911/12, and president for 1912/13.
His contributions to the society's Journal included a "Note on the refining of base bullion" (1904/5, Vol. 5) and a paper on "Tube mill practice" (1905/6, Vol. 6). During 1910-1912 he read three papers on the practical aspects of the amalgamation method of gold recovery (Journal, Vol. 11-12): "Danger of explosions in amalgam barrels", "Stationary amalgam plates in tube mill plants", and "Amalgamation of gold in banket ore". He also contributed a chapter on tube milling to the book by R.S.G. Stokes* and others, A textbook of Rand metallurgical practice (London, 1912). In 1918 he became a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science. He was married to Florence Mary Dowling.