Born locally in 1853 in Parr Mount, St. Helens, John Forster was apprenticed as an engineer at Robinson Cook & Co; Atlas Foundry, St. Helens. In 1876 he entered the boiler-making department and two years later in partnership with his elder brother, founded the business D. & J. Forster, Navigation Boiler Works, Bridgewater Street, St. Helens. By 1890 the partnership had been dissolved, the lease on the Navigation Works expired and new premises were acquired in Atlas Street. However the history of the works spans constructional engineering, boilermaking and latterly glass bottle production.
After the death of John Forster in 1927, his sons assumed control, the business was later absorbed into Rockware Glass in 1968 and Rockware relocated out of St. Helens in 1981