William Henry Groom was born on 9 March 1833 in Plymouth, England. In October 1846 he was convicted of stealing and sentenced to 7 years transportation to Australia. William arrived in Australia in June 1849 at 16 years of age, and was pardoned later that year in October. His association with Toowoomba began when he became an auctioneer and storekeeper in 1856.
Over the next 43 years he was to become one of the most respected and influential people in Toowoomba and was in fact elected as our first Mayor in 1861 and served three terms in succession and then again in 1864, 1867, 1883 and 1884.
During his first term of office he successfully led his council to petition the colonial government for land for a town hall, a municipal market and the original site for Queens Park. In 1862 he was elected to represent the municipality in the Queensland Colonial Government, with a majority of 21 votes.
W.H. Groom played a major role in the growth of Toowoomba by securing funding for bridges and arterial roads, the establishment of the General Hospital and Willowburn (now Baillie Henderson) Hospital.
He was also instrumental in the provision of a water supply and the drainage of east and west swamps. He was involved in the foundation of the Toowoomba Permanent Building Society, the Grammar School, the racecourse, the School of Arts and many other establishments. For many years he was the proprietor of The Chronicle.
W. H. Groom was parliamentary speaker from 1883 to 1888 and was elected as the Darling Downs representative to the first Commonwealth Parliament in 1901. W. H. Groom died of a combination of bronchial catarrh and heart failure on August 8, 1901.
Local History files – LH/Groom Family
Local History files - Mayors A-L
Waterson, D.B. – “The remarkable career of William Henry Groom” R.A.H.S. Journal Vol. 49 Pt. 1 June 1963
Donges, Jacob – “William Henry Groom” n.d.