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McColl, Gordon Kidgell (1910–1982)

by Pam Crichton

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

Gordon Kidgell McColl (1910-1982), road haulier, was born on 10 September 1910 at Lithgow, New South Wales, eldest of five children of Victorian-born John Gordon McColl, ironworker, and his Queensland-born wife Florence Mabel, née Kidgell.  Gordon attended Fort Street Boys’ High School, Sydney, obtaining the Intermediate certificate in 1925.  Next year he was appointed a junior clerk in the State Department of the Attorney-General and of Justice.  In 1928 he transferred to the Department of Agriculture; he was dismissed in 1935 for making fraudulent monetary claims.  He married Thurza Lurline Aldred on 3 April 1930 at the district registrar’s office, South Balmain; they divorced in 1941.  On 8 November that year at Abbotsford he married with Presbyterian forms Mary Irma Underwood, a typist.

A competitor in motorcycle rallies, McColl had started McColl’s Delivery Service in Sydney in 1936 with a motorcycle and side-box.  Later he acquired a truck.  After World War II he moved into interstate trade.  In 1951 he formed McColl Interstate Transport Pty Ltd, which carried goods ranging from pharmaceuticals to construction equipment.  His ethos of carrying `Anything anyone will pay for--anywhere’ led to expansion, with offices in Canberra and at Coburg, Melbourne, as well as in Sydney.  Irma served as the company secretary and as a director.  Ansett [q.v.17] Freight Express Pty Ltd bought the firm in 1965 and, as contracted, McColl worked for Ansett for two years.  With his wife and son he ran (1967-71) a service station at Hornsby.  After working in casual and part-time jobs for a few years, McColl retired completely in 1977, following an accident.

Keenly absorbed in the motor transport industry, McColl was a committee member of the Long Distance Road Transport Association of Australia for thirty years and was awarded life membership.  From the inception of the Australian Hauliers’ Federation in 1953, he was its president until 1964 and then, after a restructure, chairman (1964-67) of the hauliers’ division of the Australian Road Transport Federation.  He opposed the power of the government, as the owner of the railways, to tax a competitor, the road transport industry.

After living at Manly for twenty years, the McColls moved to Clifton Gardens early in the 1960s.  Gordon enjoyed weekends at his property at Kurrajong, in the Blue Mountains.  His recreational interest had changed from motorcycles to cars.  In the 1950s he was treasurer of the Australian Sporting Car Club.  A participant in the Redex Round Australia Reliability Trial as a driver (1953) and a co-driver (1954), he officiated as the Darwin control officer in 1955.  He was the proud owner of a Rover.

McColl was a solid man, 5 ft 7 ins (170 cm) tall, with a moustache.  A transport colleague described him as a 'chunky, vigorous' person with a 'square-cut dial that can be alertly serious, but that usually bears a grin'.  Although genial he was also determined, whether fighting for the interests of those in the transport industry or completing a car trial in an MG.  Survived by his wife and their son, he died on 25 April 1982 at Collaroy and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Redex Reliability Trial Annual, 1954, p 17
  • Redex Reliability Trial Annual, 1955, p 7
  • Bulletin, 19 February 1958, p 14
  • Australian Road Haulage Journal, March 1959, p 14
  • Australian Road Haulage Journal, January 1962, p 17
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 1982, p 8
  • G. K. McColl, NSW Public Service Board employment hist cards, 8/2673 (SRNSW)
  • private information

Citation details

Pam Crichton, 'McColl, Gordon Kidgell (1910–1982)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mccoll-gordon-kidgell-14203/text25215, published first in hardcopy 2012, accessed online 22 October 2019.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012

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