Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Curran, Bernard Augustine (1908–1983)

by W. J Murray

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Bernard Augustine Curran (1908-1983), stockbroker, was born on 24 August 1908 at Balmain, Sydney, second of eight children of Joseph Charles Curran, a clerk born in New South Wales, and his Queensland-born wife Catherine Mary, née Barbeler. Bernard attended Christian Brothers’ School, Balmain. His career began as a clerk (1923-39) with the stockbrokers (Charles) Titmus & (Claudius) Quinan (later C. B. Quinan & Cox). He then worked (1939-47) for another stockbroker, Stanley R. Johnson. Curran’s business acumen was well known in the financial world from the 1930s, when he encouraged (Sir) Norman Rydge to buy controlling interests in cinema companies that ultimately became the Greater Union Organisation Pty Ltd. In July 1947 Curran’s assets were estimated to be £28,630, including £18,176 in shares and securities, largely in cinema-related enterprises.

When Curran applied in 1947 for membership of the Sydney Stock Exchange, the committee suggested that he withdraw his application and resubmit it in twelve months’ time: this rejection may have been due to his Catholicism or to his relative youth and aggressive style of business. Evan Whitton later described the SSE as a `rather WASP-ish club’, although from the beginning it had included a few Catholics. Prominent businessmen, who had given Curran references, probably lobbied in support of his candidature and the intervention of his brother-in-law, Senator John Armstrong, a minister in the Chifley government, may have led the committee to reconsider its decision rather than face the threat of regulation of the Exchange. On 23 October 1947 Curran was elected a member.

Next year Curran became a sole trader. James McHugh worked for him from 1950 and when he became a partner in 1955 the firm was named Bernard Curran & Co. In 1965 it was renamed Bernard Curran, McHugh & Co. Curran succeeded in overcoming interstate rivalries in order to float companies from outside New South Wales on the Sydney market. Through his association with the accountant Raymont Moore, (Sir) Reginald Ansett and Rydge, Curran was often engaged in company flotation and underwriting issues, bringing some twenty companies, including Gilbert Lodge (Holdings) Ltd and Woolcord Fabrics Ltd, to the lists of the SSE. He resigned as senior partner of Bernard Curran, McHugh & Co. in 1982 but continued as a consultant.

A director of Metropolitan Theatres & Investment Co. Ltd (National Properties Ltd) from the 1930s, Curran was closely associated with other companies (including National Investments Ltd for twenty-five years), which benefited from his financial skills. Curran, who never married, played bowls for recreation. He died on 25 March 1983 in an ambulance on the way from his Lindfield home to the Mona Vale District Hospital and was buried in the Catholic section of Northern Suburbs cemetery. A benefactor of numerous charities, he provided in his will for the Bernard Curran Foundation to distribute funds to the Hornsby hospital and other medical and charitable institutions.

Select Bibliography

  • S. Salsbury and K. Sweeney, Sydney Stockbrokers (1992)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Apr 1977, p 33, 29 Mar 1983, p 12
  • Australian Financial Review, 17 July 1979, p 1
  • private information.

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