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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Allen, Sir William Guildford (1897–1977)

by Angelika G. I. Moffat

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

Sir William Guildford Allen (1897-1977), grazier and businessman, was born on 26 April 1897 at Boobera, near Moree, New South Wales, youngest of ten children of Robert Cornelius Allen, a grazier from the United States of America, and his native-born wife Margaret Anne, née Allen, a cousin. William was educated at St Joseph's College, Sydney, and at Nudgee College, Brisbane. He worked on the family property, Carbucky, at Goondiwindi, on the New South Wales border; with his four elder brothers, he engaged in stock and land dealings until 1923 when he bought Limbri Downs at Hughenden in North Queensland. On 13 July 1927 he married Mona Maria Nolan (d.1956) at the Sacred Heart Church, Pymble, Sydney.

Over the next fifty years Allen put together a pastoral empire of sheep and cattle properties, beginning in 1931 when he bought Elvira and Whitewood at Hughenden and Glenallen at Morella. Acquiring Bexley in 1945, he established Bexreach Shorthorn Stud and the Bexley Merino Stud in 1949. The latter was to become the biggest, privately-owned merino stud in the State: at times its flocks exceeded 150,000. In 1948 and 1949 Allen purchased Westbury and Elmore at Longreach, then Ludgate and Ohio at Prairie in 1951; North Yanburra followed in 1952 and Alice Downs, Blackall, in 1959; Nukinenda at Esk was added in 1963. By consolidating his properties, Allen eventually acquired a twenty-five-mile (40 km) frontage on the Thomson River. Intensive development methods dramatically increased productivity and his wool consignments constituted one of the largest, privately-owned clips in Australia. A senior partner in the pastoral company, Allen, Allen & Crawshaw, he also served as a member and deputy-chairman (1948-58) of the Longreach Shire Council.

Having taken a radio receiver to Hughenden in 1925, Allen recognized the importance of communications for Queensland's sparsely populated north-western region. As a director of the Longreach Printing Co. from the mid-1950s, he helped to improve the Longreach Leader newspaper. In 1957 he founded the Central Queensland Broadcasting Corporation Pty Ltd and acquired the Longreach-based radio station 4LG; by 1962 the network included 4LM Mount Isa, 4VL Charleville, 4WK Warwick and 4IP Brisbane. Some 6 ft 1 in. (185 cm) tall, with penetrating hazel eyes, an olive complexion and thin lips, 'W. G.' was persuaded that being the youngest in a large family instilled the desire to excel: his achievements were regarded as 'not normally associated with those of an individual but more that of a corporate body'. During the 1960s Allen was actively involved in the central council of the State branch of the Australian Country Party and was to become a life member of the National Party. Appointed C.B.E. in 1970, he was knighted in 1973.

On 18 March 1961 he had married a nurse Josephine Agnes Peacock in St Francis's Catholic Church, West End, Brisbane. Sir William suffered a stroke in 1974; he died on 3 January 1977 at Benowa and was buried in Nudgee cemetery. His wife survived him, as did the daughter and two sons of his first marriage; his Queensland estate was sworn for probate at $400,001.

Select Bibliography

  • Notable Queenslanders (Brisb, 1975)
  • M. McCosker, Heritage Merino (Brisb, 1988)
  • Queensland Country Life, 18 June 1970, 6 Jan 1977
  • Longreach Leader, 19 June 1970
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 4 Jan 1977
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Angelika G. I. Moffat, 'Allen, Sir William Guildford (1897–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 21 September 2020.

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

View the front pages for Volume 13

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