Past Chairmen and Mayors

Each of the past Chairmen and Mayors of the Toowoomba City Council are listed below in date order from earliest to most recent.

Toowoomba City Council was amalgamated with eight councils on 15 March 2008 and became part of the Toowoomba Regional Council.

Further information on each of our past Chairmen and Mayors can be found below.

1861 - 1862, 1864, 1867, 1883 - 1884: WM Henry Groom
1863: A H Thompson
1865: Thomas George Robinson
1866: Edwin Woodward Robinson
1868 - 1869: Joseph Wonderley
1870 & 1873: Henry Spiro
1871: Michael Power
1872 & 1879: Richard Godsall
1874 - 1875: Robert Aland
1876 - 1878 &1885: John Garget
1880: J S McIntyre
1881: J P McLeish
1882: James Campbell
1886: Charles Campbell
1887 &1892: John Fogarty
1888: Thomas Trevethan
1889 & 1897: Edmund Boland
1890: James Taylor
1891: Gilbert Gostwyck Cory
1893: WM Thorn
1894: Archibald Munro
1895: Malcolm Geddes
1896, 1903 &1917: Alexander Mayes
1898: Robert Sinclair
1899: Hugh C. Pointer
1900: Matthew Keeffe
1901 - 1902: Charles Rowbotham
1904, 1907 &1919: Thomas Stephen Burstow
1905: B J Beirne
1906: Edwin John Godsall
1908 & 1915: Henry Gent Webb
1909: Job Eagles Stone
1910: Vernon Charles Redwood
1911 - 1912: Henry King Alford
1913: John Atkinson
1914: D J Boland
1916: Alfred David McWaters
1918: Thos A Price
1920 - 1924: Albert Richard Godsall
1924 - 1930, 1933 - 1949 &1952: James Douglas Annand
1930 - 1933: Frank J Patterson
1949 - 1952: Alexander Roy McGregor
1952 - 1958: Mervyn John Reginald Anderson
1958 - 1967: John Francis McCafferty OAM
1967 - 1981: Nellie Elizabeth Robinson OBE
1981 - 1982: John Edmund Duggan AD
1982 - 1992: Clive John Berghofer OAM
1993 - 1997: Ross Cedric Miller
1997 - 2000: Anthony James Bourke
2000 - 2008: Dianne Marion Thorley

2008 - 2012: Peter Taylor

2012 - 2023: Paul Antonio


About our past Mayors and Chairmen

Robert Aland, Toowoomba’s Mayor in 1874 and 1875, was an ironmonger and storekeeper who had premises in Ruthven Street.

His store was on the northern side of Ruthven Street near where the main branch of the Commonwealth Bank now stands.

Related to former Dalby Mayor Mr Richard Aland, Robert Aland was involved with progressive movements for the advancement of Toowoomba, among them the push for a permanent water supply.

Other organizations he was closely associated with were the city’s hospital board, which he was a committee member of for 25 years, the congregation of the Neil Street Methodist Church, and was a trustee of the city’s cemetery.

He was also interested in education and for several years was chairman of trustees of the Toowoomba Grammar School.

Robert Aland was born in London on December 24, 1836.

He came to Australia at the age of 16 and worked at Ipswich as store clerk for a number of years prior to settling in Toowoomba about 1866.

He established a successful ironmongery business in Toowoomba and Warwick in 1876 and by 1886, was a major shareholder in the Toowoomba Foundry.

According to Toowoomba historian Mr Ron Douglas, records show Robert Aland had premises in Reed’s Building in 1866. This block of six or eight shops was located in Ruthven Street opposite St Luke’s Church and at one stage, housed the offices of the Toowoomba Chronicle.

Aland was elected an alderman of the Toowoomba Council in 1873, 1876 and 1877, and in 1878, stood as one of six candidates for the Legislative Assembly.

He eventually gained third place in the poll behind the Hon. W H Groom and Mr G H Davenport. In January 1881 Davenport died and Robert Aland was elected in his place, holding the seat until May 1893 when he did not seek re-election.

He died in Warwick on March 19, 1904.

Henry King Alford, born on July 22, 1852, was elected Mayor of Toowoomba in 1911 and 1912..

His christening on August 29, 1852, is of historical importance for Toowoomba. Not only was the christening conducted at the first Church of England service held in Toowoomba, but it was also the first time the name “Toowoomba” was written on a public document.

The son of district pioneers Mr and Mrs Thomas Alford, it was his mother who gave the future city its name.

As a young man, Henry Alford was an officer of the Australian Joint Stock Bank, but later, and until the time of his death in 1930, he was associated with pastoral properties in Queensland.

During his time in public life, he was keenly interested in several phases of civic progress. He was a council alderman for two years before being elected Mayor.

Henry Alford died on August 19, 1930, aged 78.

A Street in Mt Lofty and a park in Victoria Street on the banks of West Creek have been named in his honour.

Anderson, M J R 'Curly'

Toowoomba’s 43rd Mayor, Mr M J R Anderson, was actively involved in community affairs for much of his life.

Popularly known as 'Curly', he was Mayor of the city from 1952 to 1958 and in addition, served as the Member for Toowoomba East in the Queensland Parliament from 1957 until 1966.

Mr Anderson was elected to the City Council in May 1952 and appointed Deputy Mayor in August 1952 following the resignation from that position of Mr E E Gold. In October that year, he convincingly won the Mayoral election by about 5000 votes.

During his long period of service to the Toowoomba community, 'Curly' Anderson was member of the Chamber of Commerce, the South Toowoomba Progress Association and the St Vincent’s Hospital advisory committee.

He served as president of the Toowoomba State High School Parents and Citizens’ Association and the Toowoomba South Rotary Club and was also chairman of the Toowoomba branch of the Queensland Road Safety Council.

But it is for his service to handicapped children that he is probably best remembered. For this work he was awarded an O.B.E. in the New Year’s honours list in 1970 and in August 1971, was named Queensland Father of the Year.

He was Toowoomba branch president of the Queensland Subnormal Children’s Welfare Association (now Endeavour Foundation) for 17 years, State president for four years, and one month before his death on November 14, 1971, aged 62, was elected national president.

A native of Toowoomba, Mervyn John Reginald Anderson began work as a delivery boy in his father’s grocery store. Later, he operated a service station at Drayton and then took over the managership of Western Transport Pty Ltd. He eventually became managing director of the firm.

He began his many years of community service on the now defunct Drayton council.

Mr Anderson was keenly interested in sport and at various times was president of the South Toowoomba Bowling Club and patron of the Drayton Bowling Club.

Prior to an accident, which caused the amputation of his right leg, he was renowned for his motorcycle racing activities. At one time, he held the distinction of being the only Queenslander to win the Australian T T race at Bathurst.

James Douglas Annand was Toowoomba’s longest serving Mayor, having held the position a total of 22 years between 1924 and 1952.

He was elected Mayor from 1924 to 1930, 1933 to 1949 and from June to August 1952. James Annand won the first election he stood for in April 1921.

That year, the franchise was changed so that the candidate who topped the poll was automatically elected Mayor. At the next election in April 1924, he was elected to the highest municipal office in Toowoomba.

(The franchise was altered again in 1933 to provide for a separate candidature for the office of Mayor.)

He was successful in every election until May 1949 when he was defeated by the late Dr A R McGregor.

As Mayor of Toowoomba, Alderman Annand was responsible for the introduction of many projects, which contributed to the city’s development. One of the major projects was the building of Cooby Creek Dam.

For many years, until his resignation in 1947, he was chairman of the Local Authorities Association of Queensland (now Local Government Association). From 1927 to 1931 he represented Toowoomba in the Queensland Legislative Assembly.

James Annand was born at Ipswich but Toowoomba was his home from infancy. For many years, he operated a large drapery business on the corner of Ruthven and Russell Streets (well known at the time as McLeod’s Corner) and before that, was a partner with Mr C S Booth in a store in Ruthven Street.

He later acquired a grazing property in the Surat district near Hannaford.

Ald Annand was keenly interested in music and was a member of the first choral society formed in Toowoomba. For five years he was subscriber’s secretary on the Toowoomba Hospital Committee and committee chairman from March 1922 to May 1929.

For many years he was president of the Toowoomba Traders’ Association and vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce. He was also chairman of many associations and sporting bodies. Ald Annand was an enthusiastic cross-country walker and touring cyclist. In his youth he was a keen cricketer.

James Douglas Annand died in Brisbane on August 8, 1952, while still Mayor. He was aged 77.

Monuments to his memory are Annand Street Park and Lake Annand.

Paul Antonio was mayor of the Region from 2012 to 2023. Bringing more than 40 years of local government experience to the role, Paul was previously the Deputy Mayor of the Toowoomba Regional Council in its first amalgamated term and Mayor of Millmerran Shire Council for eight years, having served continuously on Council from 1982-2008.

As Mayor of one of Australia's most family friendly cities, Paul lead the Region at a time of intense growth and development. During his time as mayor, the projected spend in the broader region was estimated at more than $11 billion, including the construction of the much anticipated Melbourne-Brisbane Inland Rail, one of Australia's largest ever rail projects.

Paul was also the founding Chair of the Darling Downs South West Queensland Council of Mayors and Deputy Chair of the Council of Mayors South East Queensland, representing one in seven Australians.

Several significant achievements delivered under Paul's leadership include:

  • Work on Millmerran’s 1981 Centenary celebrations led to fundraising to build the Yallambee aged care facility.
  • An extensive flood recovery and mitigation program for Toowoomba following the devastating floods of 2011 and 2013.
  • Water security was improved with the delivery of the Wivenhoe pipeline and upgrade of the Wivenhoe pump station. 
  • The Toowoomba Bypass opened in September 2019 after decades of campaigning and work by many individuals, Parliamentarians, interest groups and past Councils. During Paul's time, Council ran high-profile campaigns to progress the final agreement between the three levels of government. A residents’ petition was tabled in the House of Representatives. Commonwealth and state governments agreed to funding arrangements.
  • In order to guarantee the direction of future development for a town centre at Highfields a revised model was implemented where Council owned the land. Former Cr Chris Tait’s role is recognised in the negotiations for the purchase of the 20-hectare holding in 2017.
  • The City Centre Master Plan was the catalyst for a range of public and private investments; including laneway development, public realm, parklands and public art. Few, if any, Australian regional centres can point to more than $850 million in private and public investment in their city centre over the past decade.
  • Council is undertaking one of its largest strategic projects, titled Toowoomba Region Futures, that will build a community vision for our Region’s growth and development for the next 30 years.
  • The Region was declared as a Refugee Welcome Zone.
  • Hosted one of Queensland's largest White Ribbon Day events promoting peace, particularly in families and homes .

Paul holds a Diploma in Agriculture from the Queensland Agricultural College and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and has held several board positions. He also serves as patron of many local associations throughout the Toowoomba Region.

Former Toowoomba Mayor John Atkinson at one time held the title of Queensland wrestling champion.

He was elected Mayor in 1913 and a Toowoomba City Council alderman in 1907 and from 1910 to 1912.

A native of England, John Atkinson was born at Cumberland in England and came to Australia as a young man in 1878.

Soon after he arrived he made a name for himself by winning the wrestling championship of Queensland. He was first employed as a schoolteacher, but in the early 1880’s established a general business in Toowoomba.

His first shop was near the Imperial Hotel, Ruthven Street (demolished in 1971), and he later moved to premises where “Best and Less” is now located. [since relocated]

He carried on the business there until about 1905 when he handed it over to his two sons, Leslie and Percy, the former also being a member of the Toowoomba City Council.

John Atkinson took a keen interest in public affairs and stood for Parliament on two occasions, but without success. For many years he was a warden of St James’ Church of England and was also a member of the Masonic Lodge.

Throughout his life, he maintained a keen interest in wrestling and boxing and he was also a good debater and mathematician.

He died on May 19, 1943, aged 94. His sons, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren survived him.

The article that appeared in this series yesterday referred to Bernard J Beirne senior, and not to his son Bernard J. Beirne, Mayor of Toowoomba in 1905.

Mr Beirne Snr. although a distinguished citizen of Toowoomba from the 1870’s until his death in 1920, was never a Mayor of Toowoomba. The following article corrects the misinformation supplied about Mr Beirne junior.

Bernard Joseph Beirne was just 33 years of age when elected the first native-born Mayor of Toowoomba in 1905.

A well-known solicitor in Toowoomba, B.J. Beirne was one of the youngest alderman ever to be elected to the highest municipal position in the city. In his younger days, he was an outstanding sportsman and at one time was classed as one of Queensland’s best cricketers. He won State colours in rowing and bowls and was also a good tennis player and polo player.

Born in Seaton Street, Toowoomba in 1871, B.J. Beirne junior received his early education at the South Toowoomba State School and the Toowoomba Grammar School. In 1886 he went to Riverview College in Sydney and he matriculated from there to the University of Sydney.

He was then articled to a firm of solicitors in Brisbane and admitted to practise as a solicitor by the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1896. Mr Beirne then went to live in Rockhampton but returned to Toowoomba to establish his own firm in 1900.

In 1902, he was elected unopposed to the then South Ward of the Toowoomba Municipal Council and two years later married a daughter of Mr J.J. Booty, manager of the London Bank of Australia in Sydney.

He practiced his profession in Toowoomba until his retirement in the late 1949. Mr Beirne was 86 years of age when he died at his Campbell Street home on November 12, 1957.

He was survived by his wife, four daughters and his son Rupert.

Millionaire businessman and property developer, Clive Berghofer, was born in 1935 on the outskirts of Toowoomba.

He attended school at Cambooya and later Wellcamp where his parents had a dairy farm. He began his working life in a sawmill at Wellcamp when he was 13, then later moved to another sawmill near Millmerran.

After National Service in the Army he took a job as a carpenter’s labourer at Oakey.

Mr Berghofer first married in 1953 and had 2 children, a son and a daughter. He married for the 2nd time in 1959 and had 3 daughters.

In 1959 he moved to Toowoomba and set up his own building business. He bought his first block of land in 1964 and continued to develop land and build houses. In 1971 he won the tender to build and operate the Wilsonton Hotel.

By 1976 he had also built the Wilsonton Shopping Centre. His business empire now spans many companies and successful ventures. He ranks annually in the BRW Rich 200 list.

He served as an alderman on Toowoomba City Council from 1973 to 1982 and was Mayor from 1982 till he resigned in 1992. He was a Member of the Queensland Parliament for Toowoomba South from November 1986 to March 1991.

He is the patron of many charitable, welfare and sporting organisations and his philanthropy is legendary. Contributing $5 million to the Queensland Medical Research Council saw the research centre named the Clive Berghofer Cancer Research Centre.

Mr Berghofer was awarded the Order of Australia (OAM) in 1994 in recognition of his services to local government and the community. In 1996 the USQ awarded him the honorary title of Fellow of the University of Southern Queensland for contributions to the civic life of Toowoomba and commitment to the interests of the University.

David Boland was the third Darling Downs born resident to be elected Mayor of Toowoomba.

E J Godsall, Mayor in 1906, was the first native-born citizen to be elected to the position and H K Alford, Mayor in 1911, was the second.

The third generation of the Boland family to be a Downs Mayor, David Boland was unanimously elected to Council’s highest municipal office on February 2, 1914.

His grandfather was Mayor of Drayton and his father, Edmund Boland, was Mayor of Toowoomba in 1889 and 1897.

Born at Cecil Plains, David James Boland was prominently associated with sport, especially horseracing. Much of his personal popularity was achieved as a committeeman and starter for the Toowoomba Turf Club.

Throughout his life he was associated with one of Queensland’s biggest industries – the pastoralists.

He was first elected to council on March 30, 1912, when the Constitution was changed from three wards to one electorate. He also served as an alderman in 1913 and 1915.

He was also a Justice of the Peace.

Edmund Boland was a successful butcher in Toowoomba when elected Mayor in 1889.

Born in County Clare, Ireland, in 1840, he was educated at Kilrush School. He came to Queensland with his family in 1854and for nine years worked as an overseer for James Taylor.

His father, John E Boland was for many years one of the most respected citizens in Drayton, and when that town was a municipality, was its Mayor twice.

After his job as overseer, Edmund Boland visited Stanthorpe and started a butchery there. He moved to Toowoomba in 1875 and established a butchery on the western side of Ruthven Street with Mr John McHugh.

Toowoomba historian Mr Ron Douglas believes the butchery was located near the present-day premises of Crazy Clarks.

Boland entered the Toowoomba Municipal Council as an alderman in 1886. He was unanimously elected Mayor in 1889 and that year was also made a chief magistrate.

He retired from public life but re-entered in 1889 and was elected Mayor for a second term in 1897. A branch of his butchery was opened in Brisbane and managed by two of his sons, James and Francis.

Edmund Boland died after a long illness on October 7, 1906.

Tony Bourke was born July 30, 1941 in Brisbane and educated at St. Patrick's Christian Brothers.

He graduated from the University of Queensland as a pharmacist in 1958. He worked in London from 1966-1969 and purchased a pharmacy in Margaret Street Toowoomba in 1970.

Mr Bourke was married in 1970 and has 3 children.

The Business was sold in 1978 while he was in Parliament, where he was the Liberal Party Member for Lockyer from 1976 to 1980.

He worked as a real estate agent for Rogers and Joseph from 1981 and set up his own pharmacy again in 1984 in Bridge Street. This business was closed in 2002.

Tony Bourke was an alderman of Toowoomba City Council from 1982 to 1988 and Mayor 1997 to 2000. Mr Bourke also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in History and Government.

Thomas Burstow holds a special place in Toowoomba’s history.

As the person instrumental in gaining city status for Toowoomba, he was the first Mayor to wear the robes of that office.

Toowoomba was proclaimed a city in 1904, the year that Thomas Burstow was elected to his first 12-month term as Mayor. He was also elected Mayor in 1907 and 1919.

Thomas Stephen Burstow, the son of a furniture manufacturer and merchant, was born in London in February 1858.

He was educated at private and public schools at Sussex and after leaving school, learnt building and construction with his father. He subsequently became foreman for Messrs James Barnes & Co., builders of Brighton.

Between 1874 and 1878 he served as a sergeant with the 4th Sussex Artillery Volunteers.

He married a daughter of Mr W Hill of Brighton in 1879 and a few years later the couple sailed for Queensland. They arrived in Toowoomba in the early 1880’s and Thomas worked at the Toowoomba Foundry for a short period.

In 1883 he became foreman for local builder and contractor Mr James Renwick and the following year saw similar service with Messrs Paterson and Henderson.

He established his own business in 1893 and about the same time, acquired the cabinet-making business of R A Dakers in Bell Street. The business grew and while the Bell Street premises were maintained for furniture manufacture, a retail business was opened in Ruthven Street.

Thomas Burtow’s distinguished service in local government began in 1901 when he was elected to represent the then East Ward. Excepting 1911, he maintained his seat in the council for the next 27 years.

He was noted throughout Queensland for his comprehensive knowledge of local government regulations and laws and for over 20 years represented Toowoomba on the executive of the Local Authorities Association (now Local Government Association). He was president of the association three times.

He was one of the most distinguished freemasons in Queensland and was associated with the craft for 37 years and for 14 years was the chief of Scottish Freemasonry in Queensland.

He also gave his support to musical societies and was a president of the Austral Association where Toowoomba’s great festivals were held.

He was also a member of the Toowoomba Ambulance Committee, a representative on the QATB executive and a president of the first council of the Royal Society of St George.

In 1907 he stood as a Liberal candidate for Drayton and Toowoomba but was unsuccessful.

Thomas Burstow died on July 24, 1928, aged 70.

A butcher and dairy farmer by occupation, Charles Campbell served on both the Toowoomba and Jondaryan Shire Councils.

The brother of James Campbell, Toowoomba Mayor in 1882, Charles was instrumental in the subdivision, which resulted in the creation of Pittsworth Shire in 1913.

He was elected Mayor of Toowoomba in 1886 and an alderman in 1887, 1888 and 1889.

Charles Campbell was the third chairman of the Toowoomba Permanent Building Society, a position he held from September 1904 until March 1919. He was a trustee of the Society from 1893 until 1904.

On his death in 1919, the Board of Directors of the Society decided to officially recognize his services by obtaining a photograph for display in their offices.

Charles Campbell was chairman of the Toowoomba Gas Company and served as a member of the Queensland Legislative Council during World War 1.

He was a Councillor of the Jondaryan Shire Council from 1880 to 1919 and Chairman from 1896 until 1919.

James Campbell was the first of two brothers to be elected Mayor of Toowoomba during the 1880s. James Campbell was elected Mayor in 1882, and his brother Charles in 1886.

According to Toowoomba historian, the late Mr Ron Douglas, James was one of the partners of J, C and W Campbell, butchers of Ruthven Street.

Mr Douglas said records show the butcher shop was at one time located near the Town Hall in Ruthven Street and later at the corner of Ruthven and Russell streets on the present site of the Commonwealth Bank.

James Campbell’s term as Mayor was the only time he was elected to council.

Three streets on the western side of Toowoomba – Gilbert, Gostwyck and Cory streets – are among the monuments named in honour of the city’s 19th Mayor.

Gilbert Gostwyck Cory, elected to the position in 1891, is probably best remembered for his “pioneering” work with the Toowoomba Turf Club and the Royal Agricultural Society.

However, he was also associated withy the Jondaryan Shire Council and was its chairman in 1894 and 1895.

Born in the Paterson district of New South Wales in 1839, he came to Toowoomba in 1858 and took up service at the Cecil Plains station of James Taylor, a successful pastoralist and landowner who was Mayor of Toowoomba in 1890. Cory’s wife was a daughter of Taylor.

After successfully managing the station for a number of years, Gilbert Cory moved to Toowoomba where he took an active part in civic affairs. “Vacy”, in Russell Street, was built for him during the 1880’s.

One of Cory’s chief interests was the Royal Agricultural Society. He was a member of the Society from 1872 until his death in 1924. He was elected a committee-man of the society in 1878, vice-president in 1894 and president from 1912 until 1924.

He was also one of the founders of the Toowoomba Turf Club of which he was a trustee from its inception. Other monuments to his memory include the Cory stand at the old Show Grounds and a ward in the  now demolished original block of Toowoomba General Hospital.

In addition to his term as Mayor, Gilbert Cory was a Toowoomba City Council alderman from 1889 to 1894 and a member of Jondaryan Shire Council from 1883 until 1919.

He died on August 8, 1924 aged 84.

Jack Duggan was born December 30, 1910 at Maree, South Australia. Orphaned in 1921, he came to Toowoomba in 1922 to join his brothers and sisters.

He began his political career when he became Secretary of the Toowoomba Trades and Labour Council at 21. He was elected Toowoomba Branch president of the Australian Labor Party at 22.

He married in 1935 and had 2 children.

In 1935 he entered State Parliament as the Member for Toowoomba aged only 25 and was a Cabinet Minister at 37 and Deputy Premier at 40. After serving in World War II, he was appointed to Cabinet as Transport Minister.

It was during his 10 years as Transport Minister that he made his greatest contribution by modernising Queensland’s rail system. Mr Duggan was Deputy Premier at the time of the major Labor Party split in 1957.

He succeeded Vince Gair as ALP Parliamentary leader and was State Opposition leader when he resigned from politics in 1968. He was elected to Toowoomba City Council in  1970, becoming Deputy Mayor after the next election, and was Mayor in 1981 but did not seek re-election in  1982.

He was patron of many organizations including the Toowoomba Rugby League, Toowoomba Tennis Association, Toowoomba Orchid Society, the Blue Nursing Service and others.

He died June 19, 1993 aged 82 and is buried in the Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery.

The death of former Mayor John Fogarty on September 9, 1904, was viewed with great sadness by Toowoomba residents. Hundreds of people lined Ruthven Street in what was then described as the largest funeral procession ever seen in Toowoomba.

John Fogarty was 41 years of age when elected Mayor of Toowoomba in 1887.

Born at Tipperary, Ireland, in 1848, he was two years old when he came to Australia with his family on the sailing ship “Emigrant”.

The future Mayor went to school in Brisbane and Warwick and started work at an early age as an assistant at a Drayton store.

He first took up work as a carrier and subsequently became a licensed victualler, operating from a store in Ruthven Street south. He operated this store until his retirement in the late 1890’s.

In 1893, Alderman Fogarty was elected Toowoomba’s first Labor Member of the Legislative Assembly. He held the position until 1901.

John Garget was one of several builders elected Mayor of Toowoomba during the latter half of the 19th century. Mayor from 1876 to 1878 and in 1885. John Garget was almost continuously on Council between 1874 and 1890.

He was awarded contracts to build many of Toowoomba’s early buildings.

Among them are the Toowoomba Grammar School, considered to be one of the city’s finest examples of domestic Gothic architecture. The school was officially opened in 1875.

John Garget also built the Post Office and Court House in Margaret Street during 1878-79.

Toowoomba historian Mr Ron Douglas said Garget built and lived in a large two-storey sandstone house named “Abingdon”, located on the southern side of Herries Street between Neil and Hume Streets.

The house is still standing and is considered by Mr Douglas to be one of Toowoomba’s oldest buildings.

John Garget was born on March 12, 1842, at Stapleton, England, the second son of Robert and Eleanor Garget. He was apprenticed as a carpenter and served his term in Darlington and London.

In 1864, Garget was given a post as foreman of a gang between 70 and 80 carpenters for construction of railway buildings at Bilbao in Spain.

Arriving in Queensland in1865, he was foreman for the construction of the railway buildings at Ipswich. He came to Toowoomba towards the end of 1866.

He also built Dalby and Jondaryan Railway stations, Ipswich Railway workshops and all the station buildings on the railway line between Toowoomba and Warwick.

Garget was one of the originators of the Toowoomba Gas Company and was chairman of directors of the company for many years.

He died on May 18, 1899, aged 57 years.

Alfred Godsall was the third member of a distinguished Toowoomba family to hold the position of Mayor of the city.

His father, Richard Godsall, was Mayor in 1872 and 1879, and his brother Edwin, was elected Mayor in 1906.

Alfred Godsall held the position from 1920 to 1924 and served as an alderman in 1916, 1918, 1919 and from 1926 to 1932.

Alfred Richard Godsall was born in Toowoomba in 1873 and at first carried on his father’s profession as a builder. Later, he worked as an engineer on gold and oil fields in the United States and was in Germany at the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914.

He was mainly responsible for the initiation of sewerage in Toowoomba and he personally negotiated the large financial loan which started the scheme. He was also instrumental in making a start on bitumen works in the city and with Dr Thomas Price as health officer, freed Toowoomba of mosquitoes.

He held a number of important offices in the city and was a director of the Toowoomba Gas Company and the Darling Downs Building Society.

Mr Godsall also worked for the formation of St Vincent’s Hospital and served on the board of the General Hospital. In addition, he was chairman of the Toowoomba Fire Brigade Board and helped in the foundation of the municipal band.

Keenly interested in sport, Mr Godsall was treasurer of the Toowoomba Turf Club for a number of years.

He was also chairman of the committees, which raised funds for the Mother’s Memorial and the Memorial Hall and with Sir Littleton Groom, was responsible for setting up the Commonwealth Health Laboratory in Toowoomba.

Mr Godsall died on June 19, 1955 at the age of 82 and was survived by his wife, three sons, a daughter, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Edwin John Godsall was the second native-born Mayor of Toowoomba and the first whose father had also been Mayor.

Born on September 30, 1871, Edwin Godsall was educated in Toowoomba at the South State School and Toowoomba Grammar School.

After leaving the Grammar School in 1888, he was employed at the Toowoomba branch of the Union Bank.

He left the bank in 1898 and joined the stock, station and commission agency of Gregory and Scholefield following the death of Mr Gregory.

In 1906, Mr R W Weaver joined the firm and it became known as Scholefield, Godsall and Weaver. (Weaver later went to New South Wales where he entered State Parliament.)

Edwin Godsall entered Council in 1904 as a member of the West Ward and was elected Mayor two years later. During his term as Mayor he welcomed Lord Northcote, the first Governor-General of Australia to visit Toowoomba.

At the conclusion of his term as Mayor in 1907, he gave a banquet, which was attended by 350 people including the then Governor of Queensland, Lord Chelmsford.

The invitation for the function was written by Toowoomba poet George Essex Evans. It read:

“E J Godsall all sends you greeting;
to this municipal meeting;
He who to this meeting repairs;
Let him cast away his cares;
Let his face with rapture shine;
O’er his dinner and his wine;
For who drinks goodwill to men;
Makes the better citizen.”

With Dr R B Godsall and Mr A R Godsall, he at one time owned the freehold and business of the Club Hotel, located in Margaret Street and demolished in the late 1950’s. In his younger days Edwin Godsall was a noted singer and actor, comedian and a good polo player.

He died in May 1941.

Richard Godsall, Mayor of Toowoomba in 1872 and 1879, was responsible for the construction of many of the city’s early buildings.

Richard Godsall was elected as a council alderman from 1867 to 1871 and between 1873 and 1880.

He was the contractor for Toowoomba’s railway station, and city’s second. Opened in 1874, it is probably the oldest public building remaining in Toowoomba.

Godsall was responsible for rebuilding in brick one of Toowoomba’s most prominent landmarks, the Club Hotel. The hotel was located on the north-eastern corner of Margaret and Ruthven Street.

It was demolished in February, 1958.

He also built the old Town Hall on the corner of James and Neil Streets, the now demolished original wing of the Toowoomba General Hospital, Clifford House, Tattersall’s Hotel, Gabbinbar Homestead, the Wesleyan Church and St James’s Church.

He also built the old School of Arts, the second Town Hall, the first North State School and Souths Boys School – all of which have since been demolished.

According to historian Mr Ron Douglas, Godsall may also have been the builder of De Molay House in Margaret Street, although this fact cannot be proven.

Richard Godsall also began work on St Patrick’s Church in James Street, but died before it was completed

Toowoomba’s first mayor, William Henry Groom, is known as “the father of Toowoomba”. There is little doubt that Groom was the reason for the city’s early development.

Because of his years as a Government representative, he was able to lobby for State finance for the construction of many of Toowoomba’s early public buildings.

In public life for more than 30 years, William Henry Groom was elected Mayor of Toowoomba six times – in 1861, 1862, 1864, 1867, 1883 and 1884. Born at Plymouth in England on March 7, 1833, he overcame many handicaps early in his political career and was able to gain strong support from voters whenever he stood for election.

Groom was convicted of stealing in 1846 and was sentenced to transportation to Australia. He was a ticket-of-leave arrival on the “Hashemy” in 1849. In 1855, while working in the Bathurst area, he was convicted of gold stealing. The charge was dismissed but libel proceedings were initiated.

Arriving on the Downs in 1856, Groom had a tarnished reputation and little money. He took up a store at Drayton and from that time, became a prime agitator to have the nearby settlement of Toowoomba declared a municipality.

This was achieved in 1861 and Groom subsequently stood for and was elected the first mayor. Later that year, he became one of two members elected to represent the district of Drayton and Toowoomba in the Queensland Parliament.

A brief period in 1866, Groom held this position until elected the first Federal Member of Darling Downs in 1901. Groom divorced himself from Toowoomba in 1872 when he moved to the booming “tin town” of Stanthorpe, and set up “Groom’s Hotel”, which he operated until moving back to Toowoomba in 1874.

On June 8, 1874, Groom acquired an interest in the Toowoomba Chronicle, which was founded by Darius Hunt in 1861. He became sole proprietor of the paper on February 4, 1876.

William Henry Groom, the most prominent, popular and successful of Toowoomba’s early politicians, died in Melbourne on August 8, 1901, aged 68. He was survived by four sons and three daughters.

One son, Sir Ernest Littleton Groom (1867-1936), succeeded him as Darling Downs member of the House of Representatives, and another, Henry Littleton Groom (1859 – 1926), served in the Queensland Legislative Council for 16 years.

Mathew Keeffe was a hotelier when he was elected Mayor of Toowoomba in 1900. A native of Kilkenny in Ireland, he arrived in Queensland during the late 1870’s.

In 1879 he joined the Queensland Police Force at Brisbane where he was first stationed.

He was subsequently transferred to Warwick and from there to Toowoomba. When he resigned from the force in 1889, his rank was acting sergeant.

After leaving the police force, Mathew Keeffe became licensee of the Freemason’s Hotel and afterwards conducted the White Horse and Crown hotels.

He was alderman of the then East Ward from 1896 until 1901. While in Toowoomba Mathew Keeffe was active in the Hibernian Society and he became that society’s first district president.

When he died aged 68 on March 22, 1924, he was one of Queensland’s oldest members of the order. At the time of his death he had been farming for some years at Maryvale.

Few people could have become as involved in Toowoomba as Alexander Mayes, Mayor four times between 1896 and 1917.

A noted builder who constructed many prominent buildings in Toowoomba, Alexander Mayes spent 35 years in Toowoomba. He was Mayor in 1896, 1903, 1917 and was a council alderman for seven years.

His youngest son, Mr Charles Mayes, who still lives in Toowoomba, recently outlined his father’s life.

Alexander Mayes was born at Largo in Fifeshire, Scotland, in 1859.

He came to Queensland at the age of 26 and arrived in Toowoomba in June 1886. His first job after coming to Toowoomba was to put a roof on a small church at Drayton.

He subsequently purchased several allotments of land opposite the main Post Office in Margaret Street. The block extended north to Bell Street and had a frontage from the present-day Crown Hotel to the Church of Christ.

Here Mayes built shops for rental and established his workyards. Among buildings he erected in Toowoomba and on the Downs are the present Town hall, which he completed during 1900; the Technical College on the corner of Margaret and Hume Streets (1911); G.G. Cory’s “Vacy” in Russell Street; the first buildings at Baillie Henderson Hospital; the original Toowoomba Fire Station (then located between the Old Court House and the Police Station in Neil Street; and the Warwick Post Office.

He was also awarded the contract to build the Ladies’ Presbyterian College (now Fairholme) which opened on August 12, 1918. Besides being a prominent builder, he also found time to be involved with numerous groups on the Downs.

He was superintendent of the Toowoomba Fire Brigade for 23 yars and chairman of Council’s Works Committee for the first time in 1895. With the then City Engineer, Mr J. McLeod, Alexander Mayes instituted the bitumening of Toowoomba’s roads.

Among the other positions he held were president of the city’s School of Arts committee and Technical College and president three times of the Toowoomba Bowling Club and twice president of the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce.

For several years ne was also chairman of the Fairholme College Council and chieftain of the Toowoomba Caledonian Society.

“Largo”, the Mayes’ family home, still stands. Built after the Toowoomba Town Hall in 1900, it is located on the corner of Mary and Arthur Streets and is now “Gowrie House”, a hostel for girls.

Alexander Mayes left Toowoomba in 1922 and moved to Bilinga in northern New South Wales. He returned to Scotland in 1927 and died in 1941, aged 82.

John Francis McCafferty, founder of one of Queensland’s largest coach and travel firms, is the third longest serving Mayor of Toowoomba.

Elected Mayor of the city in 1958, he held the position for nine years. Only Alderman J D Annand and Alderman Nell Robinson have served as Mayor for longer terms.

Mr Jack McCafferty was born at Breakfast Creek, in Brisbane in 1914. He went to live in Warwick in 1919 and received his education at the Warwick East State School, St Joseph’s Christian Brothers’ College and the Warwick High School.

He came to Toowoomba in 1928 and during the depression years of the 1930s, and commenced a milk run with a horse and cart at Wilsonton.

Mr McCafferty sold the business after eight years and in 1940, purchased a 35 seat passenger bus and began a service from the centre of Toowoomba to Picnic Point. Takings in the first week were 21 pounds (about $42).

More local bus runs were acquired but in about 1950, he sold his suburban bus interests to concentrate on a co-ordinated bus-rail link from Toowoomba to Brisbane.

From these beginnings, McCafferty’s Coach and Travel has grown to include Australia-wide coach tours. The company now has an annual turnover of $10million, employs 200 staff and operates a fleet of 65 coaches. The head office is in Toowoomba but branches are also located at the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Rockhampton, Emerald, Nanango and Sydney.
During the 1950s, Jack McCafferty became involved in community affairs. He entered Toowoomba City Council as an alderman in 1955 and was elected Mayor in 1958.

He believed the highlights of his time as Mayor were the construction of Perseverance Creek Dam and the opening of the Toowoomba City Council administration building in Herries Street.

He was also Mayor when Toowoomba celebrated its centenary in 1960 and for the visit of Princess Alexandra. His biggest disappointment was the failure to have a large airport established at Wilsonton.

According to Mr McCafferty, the airport would have allowed aircraft up to 40 seats to land. It would have covered the area from about the corner of Tor and North Streets to where the Wilsonton State School is now located.

As a member of the Carnival of Flowers committee, Mr McCafferty served for two years as president of the board. He also served as a member of the Toowoomba District Abattoir Board, trustee of the Toowoomba Athletic oval, and was president of the Toowoomba Municipal Band for five years.

Mr McCafferty passed away on January 12 1999 at the age of 84 after a 2 year battle with cancer. His funeral was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and was attended by more than 1,000 people.

Dr A R McGregor, Mayor from 1949 to 1952, is best remembered for his contribution to the establishment of tertiary education in Toowoomba.

Dr McGregor’s efforts to have advanced education brought to the city were rewarded in 1967 when the Queensland Institute of Technology, Darling Downs Branch, was established.

Shortly after, it was renamed the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (now the University of Southern Queensland).

Alexander Roy McGregor was a 34 year old medical practitioner when elected Mayor of the city in May 1949.

Early in the 1960s he was elected chairman of the Darling Downs University Establishment Association, the aim of which was to establish a university in Toowoomba.

When those efforts proved fruitless, he headed the group whose efforts were directed to bringing some form of tertiary education to the Downs. At the time of his death, he was chairman of the Darling Downs Association for Advanced Education, the main governing body of the DDIAE.

From the establishment of the institute, he was a strong force for the establishment of a teachers training college and residential school.

When Dr McGregor was tragically killed in a traffic accident in Paris in April 1970 at the age of 65, the first residential hall, Davis College, had been built and a second was in its planning stages.

The second college, name McGregor College in honour of his efforts, now provides accommodation for almost 200 students. Dr McGregor was a foundation member of the local committee, which inaugurated the Toowoomba Adult Education Centre.

Keenly interested in the arts, he also assisted with the foundation of the first branch in Queensland of the Arts Council of Australia.

The acting Mayor of Toowoomba at the time of Dr McGregor’s death, Mr J E Duggan, said of the former Mayor on April 27, 1970:

“It is difficult in paying tribute to him to select any one quality that stood out above all others. He was a wonderful family man; a former Mayor of the city, he served with distinction; a medical man who gave of his talents and skill far beyond that required to be extended to an individual patient.”

Dr McGregor was survived by his wife, three daughters and two sons.

Joseph S McIntyre, Mayor of Toowoomba in 1880, was an auctioneer and valuator. Born in Glasgow on 13th September 1842, Joseph McIntyre arrived in Brisbane in 1862 on the “Flying Cloud”.

Two years later he came to Toowoomba, first settling at his uncle’s station on the Warrego, and then trying his luck on the Queensland goldfields.

He returned to Toowoomba in 1870 and set up business as an auctioneer and valuator in Ruthven Street near the present day Australia Arcade.

He remained there for 25 years, building up extensive connections.

McIntyre then moved to Margaret Street where he remained in business for 14 years until ill health forced him to retire. Besides his term on Council as Mayor, he also served as an alderman from 1877 to 1879 and in 1881 and 1882.

Historian Mr Ron Douglas said Joseph McIntyre built and lived in a house named “Roslyn” in Herries Street. Later named “Nundora”, this house still stands and is located behind the Toowoomba Ten Pin Bowling Centre.

Mr Douglas said records show the property, which extended to West Creek, had its own racecourse.

McIntyre later moved to Llewelyn Street where he established a vineyard. He won numerous prizes for his wines at the Toowoomba Royal Agricultural Show. A street at the back of his Llewelyn Street property has been named in honour of him.

Joseph McIntyre died on May 25, 1910.

John McLeish was elected the 12th Mayor of Toowoomba in 1881.

Little has been recorded about John McLeish, however, it is known that he owned and operated a grocery business in Toowoomba during the latter half of the 19th century. He was a council alderman in 1879 and 1881.

Historian Mr Ron Douglas has records, which show McLeish had a business on the site of the Commonwealth Offices, next to the Old Town Hall in 1875.

In 1896, it is known that J P McLeish and Company, cash-grocers had premises in Ruthven Street where Duncan Thompson’s sports store is now located.

[addendum]Historian Mr Douglas has advised the Mayor featured recently in this series, Mr John McLeish, was the early pioneer of what was to become one of Toowoomba’s largest firms.

In the late 1860’s, he joined with a Mr D Grigg, who had established a business known as the Edinburgh Stores in Ruthven Street in 1865.

By the early 1870’s McLeish had acquired his partner’s interests in the firm and he subsequently took into partnership with a Mr Alexander.

McLeish retired from the partnership in the late 1870s and Alexander joined with a Mr Munro to form the business Alexander and Munro. The firm changed hands several times, becoming known as Annand and Booth, and as Booth’s after the Second World War.

Alfred David McWaters was unanimously elected Mayor of Toowoomba in 1916. He also served on the Toowoomba City Council as an alderman in 1914 and 1915 and from 1918 to 1921.

Born in Ballarat, Alfred McWaters was a grazier on the Warrego for 25 years before coming to Toowoomba.

"I do not know my feelings yet," Alderman McWaters told the crowd at the Town Hall following his unopposed election on February 15, 1916.

"A week ago I never thought I would hold this important position. I tell you I have always been a starlight sort of goer in my time, and I will always be one."

"During the time I am holding this honourable and important position, I will try to do my best and when I leave the chair I hope to do so as I left the City Council – clean, and afraid of no one.”

Alfred McWaters' name is perpetuated by McWaters Street in North Toowoomba.

Ross Miller was born in Toowoomba and educated at Toowoomba South Boys' School and Toowoomba Grammar School. He is married with 3 sons.

Mr Miller worked for Queensland Trustees for 10 years then moved into the investment advisory industry, later managing a sharebroking firm.

In the early 1970s he bought the old Toowoomba firm, R.C. Ziegler and Sons Pty Ltd. He became a partner in the setting up of the transport company QRX and was also associated with the redevelopment of the Old Chronicle Arcade.

During the 1980s he was involved with the management of the Carnival of Flowers.

Mr Miller served as an alderman of Toowoomba City Council from 1982 to 1991, then Mayor 1993 to 1996. The purchase and refurbishment of the Empire Theatre occurred during his time on Council.

Mr Miller has been involved  with the Australian Inland Rail Expressway proposal as the local government consultant.

Archibald Munro was one of Toowoomba’s most successful sawmillers when he was elected Mayor in 1894.

In partnership with his brother Duncan, he operated the Argyle Sawmills at Highfields during the latter half of the 19th century.

According to Alex Holtz in his book Toowoomba 1860-1910, the business of A & D Munro employed 25 men when established in 1874.

By 1910, three mills were in operation. At that time, timber from the mills supplied all parts of Queensland.

Besides his term as Mayor, Archibald Munro was a Toowoomba Council alderman from 1890-93, in 1895 and from 1898 until 1900.

According to local historian, Ron Douglas, Archibald Munro was born in 1833 at Argyleshire in Scotland and educated at Glasgow. He arrived in Toowoomba in 1871 and retired from his sawmilling business in 1888.

It is believed that excepting a brief period in Stanthorpe, Munro spent the remainder of his life in Toowoomba.

He died in July 1912, aged 78.

Hugh Campbell Pointer is believed to have been only the third Australian born Mayor of Toowoomba when elected to the position in 1899.

Born in Sydney in 1856, he was educated at St Peter’s and after leaving school learnt the butchering trade. Hugh Pointer arrived in Toowoomba in 1873 and joined as a partner in the old established butchering firm of Campbell Brothers.

In 1903 he retired from the butchery trade and established a stock, station and commission agency business. He was elected an alderman of the East Ward in 1898 and retired from municipal life two years later.

He lived in Hume Street and was a Justice of the Peace. In 1881 he married the daughter of John Montgomery, a railway contractor.

Historian Mr Ron Douglas has records, which show that in 1881 Hugh Pointer had a business in Ruthven Street, located on the site of the G J Coles [now Crazy Clarks] store.

The same location also at one time housed the butchery business of Boland and McHugh. Edmund Boland was also a former Mayor of Toowoomba.

Little is know about Michael Power, Mayor of Toowoomba in 1871.

Council records show he was an alderman from 1869-70 and in 1872 and 1873.

The council minutes of February 7, 1871, described Power as “a hotel keeper of Ruthven Street.”

At that meeting he was nominated.

He died on August 20, 1880.

Thomas Price is the man credited by many with ridding Toowoomba of mosquitoes.

He served as Mayor of the city in 1918 and was also an alderman from 1912 to 1917 and from 1919 to 1921.

Thomas Arthur Price was born in Brisbane in 1871.

He received his early education at the Leichhardt Street State School in Brisbane and received a scholarship from there to the Brisbane Grammar School.

After leaving school, he studied architecture for two years and then travelled to Edinburgh and London to study medicine. He later specialized in treatment of eye, ear, nose and throat disorders.

Dr Price arrived in Toowoomba about 1903 and in 1912, when elected to council, moved for the appointment of a government inspector to conduct an intensive survey in the city and district on ways of eradicating mosquito and rat pests.

(At that time, mosquitoes and other pest were, in the opinion of many citizens, causing the outbreak of infectious diseases.)

The Toowoomba Rat and Mosquito Board was established in 1917 and its services and work began later that year. Designs were obtained from the city’s plumbers for water tank screens and the best designs were made compulsory.

Those who defied the law were summonsed, and this regulation brought much unpopularity.

“For the last year or so the council has been carrying out the beginning of anti-mosquito prevention campaign,” Dr Price told the people who had gathered at the Town Hall to wish him well after his election as Mayor.

“It is early yet to speak of the effect; but the cost of infectious disease to the city was do great that if we can lessen it somewhat, it will be a great life to our finances.”

Dr Price designed and lived in 'Geeumbi', in South Street. He died in 1957 and his name is perpetuated by the Dr Price Memorial Centre, Kindergarten and rest rooms in the Civic Square.

Vernon Redwood is believed to have been the only New Zealander elected to the office of Mayor of Toowoomba.

He was the youngest member of council when elected to the position in 1910 at the age of 35. He was a council alderman from 1907 to 1909 and in 1911.

Vernon Charles Redwood was born at Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand, on April 14, 1874.

He came to Queensland in 1893 and was first employed on Westbrook Station where he remained for 18 months. One of his duties while working on the station was to cut prickly pear.

In 1895 he moved to Toowoomba and worked in his profession as a maltster. He developed his own business and sold it to William Jones and Son in 1904. He then established Redwood’s Grain Exchange in Mort Street.

In 1907, he sold all his business interests to William Jones and Son and accepted the position of Australian manager of the firm.

He stood for parliamentary representation of Toowoomba and Drayton in 1904 but was unsuccessful and again failed to be elected at a by-election later that year. He won the seat in 1907 and in 1908 but failed to retain it the following year.

Mr Nick Simmons, a New Zealander writing a book on Vernon Redwood’s uncle, Archbishop Francis Redwood, of Wellington, believes the former Mayor led a “mixed” life after he retired from council in 1911.

He said the former Mayor and his sister left Australia just prior to outbreak of World War 1 for operatic training in Italy. However, he said it appeared they were unsuccessful in Italy and Vernon moved on to England.

There, be became a member of an anti-prohibitionist group call the “Fellowship of Freedom and Reform”. “The former Mayor is believed to have often preached the group’s views on a soapbox in London’s Hyde Park,” Mr Simmons said.

Vernon Redwood is believed to have died in England in 1935 or 1936.

A park on the eastern side of Toowoomba has been named in honour of him.

Edwin Woodward Robinson, an English-born merchant, was elected the fourth Mayor of Toowoomba in 1866. Although sharing the same name as the Mayor before him, Edwin Robinson is not believed to have been a relative.

Born in Manchester in 1834, he arrived in New South Wales in 1857 and settled in Sydney. He arrived in Toowoomba six years later.

Robinson entered business as a general merchant and eventually became one of the town’s leading drapers.

He also became a director of the Toowoomba Gas Company, and became interested in several other public institutions, and according to records, was a staunch supporter of the Congregational Church.

His home, “Lydwin”, was located at the eastern end of Campbell Street. Robinson was elected to Council as an alderman in 1865. He retired from municipal life at the end of his 12-month term as Mayor.

Edwin Robinson was for many years the Queensland Electoral Returning Officer.

He died on July 27, 1920, aged 87 years.

[addendum]Lourdes Home resident Mrs Elsa Waugh advised The Chronicle that the Mayor featured in this series, Mr Edwin Robinson, married Miss Lydia Reeve.

The combination of their two Christian names formed the basis for the name of their home, Lydwin. Lydwin Estate was west of the Toowoomba Show Grounds and the name perpetuated by Lydwin Crescent.

Nell Elizabeth Robinson O.B.E., was elected Queensland’s first woman Mayor in April 1967.

She won the next four elections to hold the city’s highest municipal office until her resignation due to ill health in November 1981.

Miss Robinson is Toowoomba’s second longest serving Mayor, having held the position for almost 15 years. Only J D Annand was Mayor of the city for a longer period.

Nell Robinson served Toowoomba for 20 years. Elected an alderman in 1961, she followed in the footsteps of her Scottish-born father, John Robinson who was an alderman on Council for 21 years, 16 as Deputy Mayor.

Miss Robinson was born in Toowoomba (11-10-1914) and educated at North State School, Glennie Memorial School and St Hilda’s School at Southport.

Although eventually becoming involved in local government as a full-time occupation, she almost took the path to the professional theatre, when on completing a tour of Britain in the late 1930’s, she began a three-year course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

After studying there for 2½ years, the onset of World War II forced her to return to Toowoomba. During the war she was a driver in the Women’s Voluntary Auxiliary and was later a teacher at Fairholme College in Toowoomba.

About 1951, she took over her father’s produce and grocery business in Russell Street. Miss Robinson managed the store until September 1967 when she became Toowoomba’s first full-time Mayor.

Miss Robinson was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year honours list in 1979 for “distinguished service to local government.”

In 1974 she was appointed to a three-year term as a member on the Senate of the University of Queensland, however, the pressure of other commitments forced her to resign from the position in 1976. She was also president of the committee which raised funds to build the Senior Citizen’s Clubrooms in Victoria Street.

Miss Robinson has a particular interest in dramatic art and cultural activities generally and is a trustee of the Toowoomba Art Gallery.

She has travelled overseas numerous times and spent some time in India as guest of the Maharajah and the Maharanee of Faridkot.

Miss Robinson is grateful for those people who assisted her while Mayor.

“I was also very fortunate during my time as Mayor to have had such a splendid Town Clerk, City Engineer and Council,” she said.

“You cannot do it alone. You need good people helping you. In my opinion, I had the Best.”

She is also full of praise for the people who she served for almost 21 years.

“The people of Toowoomba have always shown me great respect and loyalty,” she said.

[Nell Robinson passed away on 19th September 1992 and is buried at the Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery.]

Toowoomba’s third Mayor was a stock and land salesman by occupation. Thomas George Robinson, elected in 1865, was the first Australian-born Mayor in the new municipality.

Born in the Hawkesbury River district in New South Wales on February 14, 1834, Robinson arrived in Toowoomba in 1859. He started as a stock and land salesman in 1860 under the firm name of T.G. Robinson and Company.

According to Toowoomba historian Mr Ron Douglas, records show Robinson established a large tannery which occupied the site of the former Luckona Hotel on Corner of Ruthven and Campbell streets.

Thomas Robinson was elected an alderman at the Council by-election in 1864 and became Mayor the following year. He did not seek re-election to Council after his term as Mayor.

Connected with various societies and progressive movements for advancement of the town, he was instrumental in introducing stud stock to Toowoomba.

In 1856 he married Miss Shenton, sister of S Shenton, who was an Ipswich Mayor for many years.

Thomas Robinson and a German gardener names Kube were responsible for the planting of Norfolk Pines at Clifford Park racecourse.

The former Mayor lived with his wife and family of five in a shingle-roofed house named “Raceview” located opposite the racecourse. Robinson moved from the property in 1880 and brought a property named “Hursley”.

He died there on March 28, 1883.

Charles Rowbotham, Mayor in 1901 and 1902, operated one of the largest footwear stores in Toowoomba at the turn of the century.

At its peak, his business was receiving orders for footwear from throughout Queensland and southern states.

Charles Rowbotham was born in England in December 1858 and arrived in Toowoomba in 1884. In 1889 he started business as a manufacturer and importer of all types of footwear.

He was elected as an alderman of the then South Ward in 1897, but retired from civic life in 1903.

He again contested election for the South Ward in 1911 and served on council for a further three years.

His business was established in Ruthven Street near to where Robert’s Menswear is now located

Robert Sinclair, an auctioneer, was elected the 24th Mayor of Toowoomba in 1898.

A native of Bath in England, he came to Toowoomba about 1882 and at first was in the service of J S McIntyre, a well-known auctioneer and Toowoomba’s Mayor in 1880.

Sinclair established his own business in 1899 and his influence spread rapidly, eventually becoming associated in a prominent way with most of the leading institutions of the city.

A foundation member of the Chamber of Commerce, he was its president on several occasions.

He was secretary of the Toowoomba Grammar School Trustees for 25 years, a member of the School of Arts committee for 14 years and chairman of the Toowoomba Hospital committee from 1914 until 1916.

For several years Robert Sinclair was a member of the Toowoomba Fire Brigade Board and he also took an active interest in the Toowoomba Caledonian Society.

In 1887 he started Toowoomba’s first Parliamentary debating society. Meetings were held in the Congregational Church where the Crown Hotel is now situated. [northeast corner of Neil & Margaret Street]

Although never standing as a candidate for Parliament, Sinclair was an active campaigner and often assisted candidates at elections. He was also a keen support of local sports and athletic associations.

He was president of the Toowoomba Cricket Club for several terms and was its secretary for over 20 years.

He was also secretary of the Toowoomba Cricket Union (now Association) for 10 years and its president for a similar period, president of the Toowoomba Athletics Association and a long time chairman of the Toowoomba Sports Ground trustees.

Historian Mr Ron Douglas has records which show Sinclair had premises in 1909 at 396 Ruthven Street, where the Heritage Building Society now stands.

He died of pneumonia at Brisbane Hospital on October 27, 1928 aged 65.

Henry Spiro was Toowoomba’s only German-born Mayor. Elected in 1870, he held the position until 1873. He was also a council alderman in 1871, 1872 and 1874.

Although the first German Mayor, Henry Spiro was not the first German to hold a position on council. That distinction belongs to Henry Flori, a Toowoomba innkeeper elected an alderman in 1862.

According to historian Mr Bob Dansie, Spiro was a German Jew born in Posen in 1839. He came to Australia in 1861, first setting up business in Ipswich and moving to Toowoomba two years later. In partnership with a Mr Benjamen, Spiro set up a store in Stewart Street (now Geddes Street).

In 1865, Spiro and Benjamen built a two-storey brick building on the corner of Margaret and Ruthven Streets on land now occupied by a branch of the Westpac Bank (formerly the C.B.A. bank).

The building was a landmark in the rapidly expanding town and the name of Henry Spiro became byword for generous, honest dealing. The Spiro-Benjamen partnership dissolved in 1868 and Spiro continued the business under his own name.

Besides having an active political and business life, Spiro was a strong supporter of the Hebrew faith and was largely responsible for the building of Queensland’s first synagogue in Neil Street, on land now occupied by the Redeemer Lutheran Church.

Spiro died in December 1876 aged just 37years. He left a wife and large family.

An obituary said: “Mr Spiro possessed a large amount of natural ability and was a clear-headed shrewd financier.

“There are many successful businessmen in Toowoomba who owe their start to his assistance…”

Benjamen returned to Toowoomba after Spiro’s death to take up his business, however the debts incurred by Spiro’s generosity were too much. The company was bought by the Australian Joint Stock Bank for 4,500 pounds and the site has housed a bank since then.

Job Eagles Stone, Toowoomba Mayor in 1909, was one of the founders of the Harlaxton State School in Ruthven Street.

For many years, Job Stone held the position of secretary on the school committee. He was also director of the Darling Downs Building Society from its inception in 1897 and a director of Security Trust Co.

(The Darling Downs Building Society and Toowoomba Permanent Building Society merged in 1981 to form the Heritage Building Society>)

He was elected an alderman for the then East Ward in 1907, a position he again won in 1908, 1910, 1911, 1923, 1924 and from 1930 to 1933.

Job Eagles Stone was born in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England on November 5, 1860. He came to Australia with his parents at the age of 13. The family eventually settled in Toowoomba.

Mr Stone first started work as a newspaper boy and did his apprenticeship with G and J Blacks, master printers. He remained with the firm for the next 15 years, spending five years in the company’s Brisbane branch.

In 1893, he entered into partnership in the printing and bookselling business with Mr George Black and Mr John McDonald. He was keenly interested in amateur dramatics and was president of the Austral Association in 1907.

In 1906, he was elected a councillor of the then Highfields Shire.

Job Stone died on September 14, 1935, at the aged of 74.

A squatter, investor and politician, James Taylor was elected Mayor of Toowoomba in 1890.

Taylor was born in London in 1820, the son of a merchant, John William Taylor and his wife Ann.

According to Professor Duncan Waterson, Taylor probably reached Sydney as an assisted migrant on the “James Pattison” on February 2, 1840, and in 1840-46 acquired pastoral experience.

James Taylor arrived on the Darling Downs in 1848 with sheep for the Dawson River district.

He became head stockman at H.S. Russell’s Cecil Plains property, and partner in 1856, and sole proprietor three years later.

Taylor entered Queensland politics as Member for the Legislative Assembly for Western Downs in 1860 and administered his office from Toowoomba.

Professor Duncan Waterson of Macquarie University claims James Taylor at times made decisions, which were without scruples or regard for the public good.

Huge areas of Cecil Plains were withheld from selection and suddenly sold off to Taylor himself in 1870. This action was one of the reasons for his resignation on May 3, 1870. Taylor lost the next election.

He was elevated to the Legislative Council in November 1871.

His attempt to re-capture Toowoomba was defeated by W. H. Groom in 1881, and Taylor subsequently concentrated on being director of the Queensland Brewing Company, the Queensland Mercantile and Agency Company and the Land Bank of Queensland.

He held much real estate in Toowoomba. He was intimately concerned with the School of Arts, the Queensland Turf Club, the Royal Agricultural Society and the Queensland Club.

In 1859, James Taylor made historic Clifford House in Russell Street his home and he lived there for the rest of his life.

Peter Taylor, businessman, farmer and pilot became the first Mayor of Toowoomba Regional Council in 2008.

Born in Goondiwindi, Peter grew up on a large brigalow property in the Moonie area. Peter was educated initially by correspondence and then in Brisbane.

He gained a commercial pilot licence and has worked as a chartered pilot. He operated an expanding agricultural business for over 30 years before selling it to concentrate on his role of Mayor of the newly amalgamated regional council.

Peter is married to Rosemary, who lectured at USQ. They have three adult children who have all completed their university degrees.

Peter’s local government and business experience is spread over many years as the previous Mayor of Jondaryan Shire Council and served as the first Mayor of the Toowoomba Regional Council.

He served as a director and past chairman of the peak body of the local government in Queensland, the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ).

Peter was also a director of LG Super, a large industry superannuation fund. He holds the position as a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and has held multiple committee and chairman roles on various boards and ministerial advisory committees.

Peter’s personal passion is ‘community development’, holding a qualification from the University of Queensland and throughout his mayoralty studied part-time towards a Masters of Development Practice.

He was defeated by Paul Antonio in his reelection bid in 2012, and Taylor subsequently began operating as a professional pilot and flies charter operations across Queensland from Toowoomba.


Although a wealth of material exists about Toowoomba’s first Mayor, William Henry Groom, little is known about the city’s second municipal representative, Abraham Hamilton Thompson.

From an 1869 report in Toowoomba’s first newspaper, The Darling Downs Gazette, it can be assumed Thompson, an Irishman, was about 27 years of age when elected an alderman of the newly-formed council in 1862.

He was elected Mayor in 1863 and held the position until June 1864. He remained an alderman on the council until late in 1864.

Thompson is the only Mayor not represented by photograph in Council’s records.

The Darling Downs Gazette dated January 30, 1896, records the death of the former Mayor at his father’s property in Ireland:

“On 6th November 1868 at the residence of his father, Bay View, County Denegal, Ireland, Abraham Hamilton Thompson (aged 33 years) Esq., J.P., Forest Mount, Queensland. Late Mayor of Toowoomba.”

Local historian Miss H.A. Frawley believes Forest Mount was located in the Drayton area on the old Wellcamp Road.

In the 1860’s, the road was the main route used by the pastoralists when travelling to the western Downs from Drayton and Toowoomba.

Dianne Thorley was born December 1, 1949 in Stanthorpe. Due to her parents’ itinerant lifestyle she was educated at a number of different schools including Eukey State School and Stanthorpe State High School.

She trained as a nurse at Royal Brisbane Hospital and spent some time as a governess in Blackall. She returned to Stanthorpe and took up a nursing position at Stanthorpe Hospital.

She married in 1969 and has 3 children. The following decade saw her pursue a variety of careers and business endeavours throughout Australia.

She made Toowoomba home in 1986 where she became a hotel cook. She then worked at and owned a number of businesses in the hospitality industry, including her own catering business. The successful craft market she organised is still running.

Ms Thorley served as  Councillor from 1997 to 1999 and became Mayor in 2000. She is passionate about social issues, especially those that affect youth. Her interests include reading and gardening.

Little information has been recorded about William Thorn, Mayor in 1893.

It is believed he was at one time a Member of the Legislative Assembly for the seat of Aubigny. He was also a Council alderman in 1891 and 1892, and from 1894 until 1901.

Toowoomba’s 16th mayor was a coach builder by trade.

Thomas Trevethan was born in 1844 at Kingsand, Cornwall. He arrived in Queensland with his parents in 1853-54 and in Toowoomba during 1856.

Educated locally, Thomas Trevethan served his blacksmithing apprenticeship with a Mr Malcolm, a local blacksmith and builder of agricultural implements. Malcolm died several years later and Mr Trevethan completed his apprenticeship under local dray-builder “Jimmie” Murray.

Shortly after finishing his indentures, he joined a partnership with Mr James Stirling.

This dissolved after three years and Trevethan moved to Maryborough where he married Miss Bella McPherson, sister of a King’s Creek Justice of the Peace.

However, Thomas Trevethan’s heart was in Toowoomba and he moved back to start a successful blacksmithing business in Neil Street. This gradually extended into coach building.

A friend of Toowoomba’s first Mayor, Mr W H Groom, Thomas Trevethan was elected a Council alderman in 1886 and Mayor in 1888. He remained in public life until his death on September 21, 1891.

While on Council, he directed his efforts towards improving Toowoomba’s water supply. He also took great interest in Toowoomba’s building societies and for many years was a valued member and office-bearer of the Congregational Church.

Although aged only 46 at the time of his death, Thomas Trevethan had already achieved the reputation of an energetic and successful businessman.

He was survived by his wife, seven daughters and five sons.

An obituary in the Toowoomba Chronicle on September 22, 1891 read: “He was, we believe, one of that rare class who are without enemies, and this notwithstanding the fact that he held strong views upon all matters that came under his notice.”

[addendum]Member for Lockyer, Mr Tony FitzGerald has supplied information about Mr Thomas Trevethan, his great-great uncle and Toowoomba’s 17th Mayor.

Mr FitzGerald has a copy of shipping records which show that Mrs Susan Trevethan, a 43 year old widow, arrived in Australia in November 1855 with her six children. The ship had left Plymouth in May of that year.

Also travelling with Mrs Trevethan was her sister Ann Littleton and her five children. One of Mrs Littleton’s daughters later married W.H. Groom, Toowoomba’s first Mayor.

Henry Webb holds the distinction of being one of the longest serving aldermen ever to be elected to the Toowoomba City Council.

Excepting his position as Mayor in 1908 and 1915, he was alderman between 1897 and 1935, a total of 36 years. He earned the title of “Father of the City Council” because of his long period of service to the city.

Henry Gent Webb came to Toowoomba as an infant and lived most of his life in the city.

He was the son of Mr T C Webb, a Downs pioneer and builder who, in the early days of Toowoomba, built the old Toowoomba jail in Margaret Street.

Born in Dungog, New South Wales, he was educated at a private school. He left school at an early age (as was the custom in those days) and was apprenticed to the bakery trade at the age of 12, working in the bakery of Messrs Davis, Harnett and Burge.

At the age of 17, he established a bakery business in Ruthven Street with his brother Thomas. The brothers dissolved their partnership after a few years and Henry Webb started a general store and bakery in Ruthven Street opposite the present day Shamrock Hotel.

After a number of years he left the storekeeping business and engaged in stock dealing and grazing. He moved from his Wylie Street home to Middle Ridge and continued to handle stock until his retirement in 1909.

Although in retirement, he turned his attention to land and building. He built many cottages in Toowoomba for selling and renting purposes and at the time of this death was a large landholder in the city.

He was a great admirer of blood horses and owned several racehorses as well as showing an interest in polo when it flourished on the Downs.

Henry Webb died on October 16, 1936, aged 77. He was survived by his wife Catherine, two sons and a daughter.

Joseph Wonderley was one of Toowoomba’s earliest established chemists. Records show that he held office on Council continuously from 1867 until 1871. He was elected Mayor in 1868 and 1869.

A resident of Brisbane prior to coming to Toowoomba, he owned and operated a large business in South Brisbane. In 1864, he established a branch of his business in Toowoomba and eventually settled in the city with his family.

According to Toowoomba historian Mr Ron Douglas, Wonderley, whose name is perpetuated by a Toowoomba Street of the same name, built and operated what is now on of the oldest buildings still standing in the city.