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Sir Norman John Carson (1877–1964)

by P. A. Pemberton

This article was published:

Sir Norman John Carson (1877-1964), businessman, was born on 27 August 1877 at St Kilda, Melbourne, eldest child of David Carson, boot importer, and his native-born wife Anne Jane, née Baker. Educated at Brighton Grammar School, in 1893 Norman joined Dougharty & Tickell, stock and station agents who were associated with the Newmarket stockyards. He moved in 1896 to the woolbrokers and stock and station agents, Australasian Mortgage & Agency Co. Ltd; after some time in their wool and produce stores, he became a travelling representative. In August 1904 the firm was taken over by Australian Mortgage (Mercantile from 1910), Land & Finance Co. Ltd. At the Independent Church, Kew, on 12 September 1911 he married Edith Riley with Congregational forms.

Like his uncle Duncan Carson (a founder of the Sydney firm Winchcombe Carson Ltd), Norman worked as an auctioneer. In August 1913 he was appointed A.M.L. & F.'s wool and produce manager in Melbourne. On the removal of the Australian head office to Sydney, Carson took over as Melbourne manager in January 1929. He declined appointment as Australian general manager for personal reasons and because he thought that he would be more useful to the company were he to maintain his local contacts.

Finding that his 'many outside interests' took an increasing amount of his time, in late 1945 Carson retired from A.M.L. & F. He had long been involved with the Melbourne Wool Brokers' Association (chairman 1932-35) and the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers (vice-president 1939-45). A member of the Victorian State Wool Committee in World War I and of the Central Wool Committee in World War II, he was a director (1950-54) of UK-Dominion Wool Disposal Ltd. From 1945 he served on the Australian Wool Realization Commission (chairman 1950-60) which oversaw the disposition of the wartime stockpile; for this work, he was appointed C.M.G. in 1952. Through A.M.L. & F., Carson was a director (1938-64) of Northern Assurance Co. Ltd; he was also chairman (1951-63) of Carlton & United Breweries Ltd and a director (1943-63) of the Union Trustee Co. of Australia Ltd. A long-time friend of the chairman of G. J. Coles & Co. Ltd, he was, as well, a board-member (1945-61) of that firm. Carson was knighted 'for services to Australian industry' in 1961.

Having moved his daughters from Methodist Ladies' College, he was involved with a group of parents and old girls in purchasing Toorak College from the Misses Hamilton in 1927, in the formation of Toorak College Ltd and in the school's relocation at Frankston. He was a foundation member (1927-63) of its council and made several generous donations to the school; the library, opened in 1960, is named after him. Interested in a wide range of hospital and welfare organizations, including the Lord Mayor's Fund and the baby health centre scheme, he sat on the board of management of the Alfred Hospital in 1940-64. A man of 'cheerful, progressive outlook', Sir Norman belonged to the Australian Club and Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, and to the Metropolitan and Kew Golf clubs. He was an active Rotarian (State president 1938-39). In his leisure time he enjoyed gardening.

Carson died on 28 January 1964 in East Melbourne and was cremated; his wife, son and two daughters survived him. His estate was sworn for probate at £101,946, and his will made provision for prizes at Toorak College and the Alfred Hospital.

Select Bibliography

  • J. D. Bailey, A Hundred Years of Pastoral Banking (Oxford, 1966)
  • J. Robinson, The Echoes Fade Not (Melb, 1987)
  • Alfred Hospital, Annual Report, 1940-64
  • Carlton and United Breweries, Annual Report, 1951-63, G. J. Coles & Co. Ltd, Annual Report, 1945-61
  • Pastoral Review, 15 Dec 1945, 24 Feb 1964
  • Herald (Melbourne), 28 Jan 1964
  • Age (Melbourne), 29 Jan 1964
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Jan 1964
  • AML & F records, 1904-45 (Australian National University Archives).

Citation details

P. A. Pemberton, 'Carson, Sir Norman John (1877–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 17 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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