Sir Bruce Small (1895 – 1980) bicycle manufacturer, land developer and politician
Sir Bruce Small, (Malvern Star) bicycle manufacturer, land developer and politician, was born on 11 December 1895 at Ryde, Sydney. Described as a ‘non-swearing, non-drinking, God-fearing Christian’, Small showed a lifelong concern for the less fortunate.
Sir Bruce Small (1895-1980), bicycle manufacturer, land developer and politician, was born on 11 December 1895 at Ryde, Sydney, second of six children of William Andrew Small, a native-born gardener, and his wife Annie Elizabeth, née Martin, who came from Victoria. William and Annie were ardent Salvationists, and by the age of 6 Bruce was playing the tenor horn in Salvation Army bands. He was to hold the post of solo euphonium player in the Territorial Staff Band of Victoria for twenty-two years.
The family was always on the move. In later life Bruce recalled that he attended fourteen schools before he finished his formal education at the age of 13. He found work in Melbourne as a printer’s devil, earning six shillings a week. He then operated a milk run before becoming a commercial traveller. On 3 September 1919 at the City Temple, Melbourne, he married with Salvation Army forms Eileen Hayman, a nurse. They had one son before being divorced.
By 1920 Small had saved enough to buy a bicycle shop at Malvern for £200. At first he manufactured twelve bicycles a week. With the slogan, ‘You’d be better on a Malvern Star’, the business blossomed and he formed a company, Bruce Small Pty Ltd, in 1926. Five years earlier he had hired a young telegraph messenger, (Sir) Hubert (‘Oppy’) Opperman, whose national and international feats as a racing cyclist brought fame to Malvern Star. Small, Oppy and a promotional team toured the world six times and successfully marketed bicycles abroad. In 1936 Allied Bruce Small Ltd was registered as a public company.
At the 1st Congregational Church, San Francisco, United States of America, on 11 August 1939 Small married Lillian Ada Mitchell, a clerk from Sydney.
During World War II Small’s factories produced bicycles, both for the armed forces and for civilians. Demand surged due to petrol rationing. Malvern Star also made radio-location sets, tubular tent frames and radio-masts for defence purposes. The business eventually comprised six factories, a wholesale warehouse and a chain of forty-five retail shops, supplemented by about one thousand dealerships. A successful manufacturer and exporter, he was a fervent proponent of Australian industrial self-sufficiency.
Described as a ‘non-swearing, non-drinking, God-fearing Christian’, Small showed a lifelong concern for the less fortunate. He was a director of the Association for the Blind of Victoria for twenty-five years. As its president (1955-64), he was closely involved with the construction of homes for the elderly at Brighton, Bendigo and Ballarat. For many years he was a board-member of the Young Men’s Christian Association of Melbourne.
By 1958 Small was a millionaire. He sold his holding in Allied Bruce Small and moved to the Gold Coast, Queensland. He soon acquired 100 acres (40 ha) of low-lying dairy land and mangrove swamps at Bundall, across the Nerang River from Surfers Paradise. Over the next eight years his companies bought more land, reclaiming and developing 500 acres (202 ha) as Paradise City. At the Isle of Capri, part of the project, he built the palm-flanked Wanamara, which remained his home until his death. Flamboyant and extroverted, he soon fell foul of the Southport-dominated Gold Coast City Council by calling for an overall town plan and for co-operation between developers, local government and the Crown.
Complete article : http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A160313b.htm
refer also :
A Gold Coast tribute to Sir Bruce Small
The history of Malvern Star – Sir Bruce Small
Sir Hubert Opperman’s account of his relationship with Bruce Small
Wikipedia – Bruce Small
Leave a Reply, comments are welcome.