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Campbell, Alan Walter (1880–1972)

by A. L. Lougheed

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Alan Walter Campbell (1880-1972), businessman, was born on 27 June 1880 at Apple Tree Gully, near Inverell, New South Wales, sixth of eleven children of John Campbell, a native-born station overseer, and his wife Mary Georgina, née McIntyre, from Scotland. The family moved to Bullerawa station in the Narrabri district where Alan was privately educated, mainly by Scottish tutors. He joined the Sydney woolbrokers, John Bridge & Co. Ltd, in 1895 and rose to be company secretary. In 1906-07 Campbell toured properties in Queensland to determine whether the firm could obtain sufficient woolclips to warrant expansion interstate: a branch was subsequently established in Brisbane. At the age of 28 he was elected a director. On 26 June 1909 he married Millicent Beatrice Cutter at St John's Anglican Church, North Sydney. In 1910 Campbell was appointed sub-manager of the company's Brisbane branch. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 3 January 1917, served in the Middle East in the Imperial Camel Brigade and the 1st Light Horse Regiment, and returned to Australia in March 1919.

Finalizing 'one of the most unusual business agreements' filed in the State, in 1920 Campbell formed the Queensland Primary Producers' Co-operative Association Ltd (later Primac) which took over the local business of John Bridge & Co. for £75,000 in paid-up shares. The new firm began operations in May, with Campbell as its general manager; he joined the board as managing director in August 1922. Under his guidance, 'Primaries' surmounted its initial uncertainties, the Depression, strong competition and World War II: its ability to attract support ensured that it ultimately became Queensland's largest primary industry co-operative. An early supporter and a trustee of the Australian Country Party, Campbell was particularly active in attempts to safeguard protection for rural industries.

He was closely connected with the formation of Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd, and provided business advice during the discussions which led to its registration in November 1920. Having acted as QANTAS's temporary secretary in Brisbane, Campbell joined its advisory board. At the board meeting on 23 February 1933 he moved the resolution to associate QANTAS with Imperial Airways Ltd in order to provide regular flights to and from Britain.

During World War II Campbell was foundation president (1941-43) of the Australian-American Association; he was also chairman (1941-46) of the Queensland State Wool Committee and later of the Australian Growers' Wool Marketing Committee. A specialist on marketing who advocated a reserve-price scheme within the auction system, he published a Statement on 'Post J.O.' Wool Marketing (1950) and Controlled Wool Marketing (1963). He kept abreast of rural problems, and was a dedicated supporter of free enterprise and of the co-operative movement. Appointed O.B.E. (1962) and C.M.G. (1967), he retired in September 1968 at the age of 88, but remained a director of 'Primaries' which then had assets of $18 million.

Survived by his son and daughter, Campbell died on 6 December 1972 at Clayfield, Brisbane and was cremated. His Queensland estate was sworn for probate at $144,774.

Select Bibliography

  • Queensland Country Life, 26 Sept 1968, 28 May 1970
  • Queensland Primary Producers' Co-Operative Association Ltd, Circular, no 52, 18 Dec 1972
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 26 Sept 1968.

Citation details

A. L. Lougheed, 'Campbell, Alan Walter (1880–1972)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/campbell-alan-walter-9674/text17051, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 26 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

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