The Groom Memorial
This is a city which is all present: It moves, but oh so slowly You would have to sleep years, Waking suddenly once in a decade To surprise it in the act of change. ‘Provincial City’, Bruce Dawe
The Groom Memorial stands at the Head of the Range crossing on the edge of the escarpment. It recognizes the service of Sir Earnest Littleton Groom and his wife, Lady Littleton Groom, who founded the Ladies Literary Society in September 1913.
Littleton Groom is a significant political figure in the history of the Downs. He entered parliament in 1901 to replace his father who died in that year. Over the next 28 years he held six cabinet posts in a succession of governments. In September 1929 he helped bring down the Bruce National Government when as Speaker he refused to use his casting vote to support the Government's maritime industries bill. His defeat as an independent in the subsequent federal election "brought to an end nearly seventy years continuous parliamentary representation of the Toowoomba district by the Groom family". Two years later he won back the seat and died in office on the 6 November 1936.
Groom's involvement with the annual George Essex Evans pilgrimages lent them and the Ladies Literary Society considerable prestige. His short address at the evening meeting which immediately followed the daylight pilgrimage in 1929 is exemplary:
"I was sitting in the house of Representatives in Melbourne beside the then Prime Minister, the Hon. Alfred Deakin. A debate was in progress. A messenger came in and handed me a telegram ... It conveyed the sad news that George Essex Evans had passed away. I handed the telegram to Mr Deakin who ... immediately ... penned ... the following message to the sorrowing widow: 'deeply grieved at sudden and unexpected death your greatly gifted husband. Australia will mourn the loss of her national poet ..." [i]
Groom then narrated another anecdote which revealed his own advisory role in the early revisions of Essex Evans' "Queensland University Ode". [ii]
His memorial bears the following inscriptions:
He brought the dispositions which are lovely in private life into the service and conduct of the Commonwealth.
A cultured and distinguished Australian his name is honoured in the land he loved.
[i] Littleton Groom qtd. in 'Essex Evans Anniversary', Toowoomba Chronicle 19 June, 1929, 12
[ii] Jessie Groom, Nation Building in Australia: The Life and Work of Sir Littleton Ernest Groom, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1941
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