For Henry Littleton Groom (1860–1926), the day that the Toowoomba Chronicle (est. 1861) passed from the hands of the Groom family, after 46 years, into the hands of the Dunn family was the saddest of his life. The newspaper for which he had gradually become the managerial backbone in the 1880s and 1890s before formally becoming managing director in 1901 had slipped from the family’s grasp because of the secret decision of one family member.
William Henry Groom (1833–1901), ex-convict, storekeeper, politician and five-time mayor of Toowoomba, bought an interest in the Chronicle in 1874 and became the sole proprietor in 1876. He invigorated the paper, whichhad been struggling against its rival, the Darling Downs Gazette.
Groom held a seat for Drayton and Toowoomba in the Queensland Legislative Assembly almost continuously from 1862 until his election to the first federal parliament in 1901. In August 1901, he became the first federal MP to die in office. Groom relinquished his sole proprietorship in 1900, when W.H. Groom & Sons Ltd was formed.
Three of Groom’s sons—Henry, Fred and William—ran the newspaper business after his death in 1901, and a fourth son, Littleton Ernest, won his father’s federal parliamentary seat and served with distinction for 34 years. He was knighted in 1924.
In Toowoomba, Henry was in charge at the newspaper, and he made it a daily in April 1906. He was a member of the Queensland Legislative Council (1906–22), and president of the Queensland Country Press Association (1912–23). He continued his day-to-day administration of the Chronicle’s affairs, but in his absence squabbling and bickering emerged among the Groom brothers. William Groom, the newspaper’s accountant, disregarded his father’s wish that the family should not sell the Chronicle. He held power of attorney, and is said to have secretly arranged the sale of the newspaper in June 1922 to Andrew Dunn and family, who owned dailies in Rockhampton, Maryborough and Warwick.
Having effectively lost his inheritance, William Henry George Groom (1900–84), a son of H.L. Groom, forged a wide-ranging journalism career in Toowoomba, Maryborough, Brisbane, Longreach, Melbourne and Bundaberg before establishing a small group of newspapers based in Innisfail, and including Atherton and Cairns.
He published his Innisfail paper daily from 1940 to 1973. A sister, Marion Flora (Dolly), and a brother, Spencer David, worked with him at Innisfail.
REF: R. Kirkpatrick, ‘The Chronicle: Groomed to Survive’, in B. Hinchliffe (ed.), They Meant Business (1984).