Godward had been born in England, but at the age of 12 he ran away to sea, reaching East Asia before someone noticed how young he was and sent him back. He was apprenticed as a mechanic for a few years but wanted again to get to sea, this time as a legitimate steward for P&O lines. He landed in Dunedin in 1886 and decided to call the South Island home from then on. He moved to Invercargill and set up there with a new wife (Marguerita Florence Celena Treweek) and it was a fruitful marriage - the couple went on to have 10 children.
Clearly not one to sit still though, Godward starting inventing. By 1900 he had devised a new type of eggbeater, a new post-hole borer, a hair-curler, a draft protector and many other interesting products. Real success came in 1901 when he invented a new type of hairpin, one with a spiral in it. Godward's invention got him out of Invercargill and became a great hit. He formed a company ('Godward's Spiral Pin & New Inventions Company' - surely he should win some sort of award for the most literally named company) and, taking out an international patent on it, he travelled to the United States for a year where he sold the patent for the impressive sum of twenty thousand pounds - almost a million dollars in today's currency.
He returned to Invercargill, built a huge house (Rockhaven, which is still standing) and plotted how to get out of the town again, this time for longer.