The young town of Toowoomba was all flutter on 12 October 1899.  In fact, according to the Darling Downs Gazette article from the day before, it was “pregnant with possibilities”.  You see, a meeting was held at the Church Institute to form a Chamber of Commerce.  And so it happened on that starry night, the Toowoomba Chamber was born.

The Gazette had certainly stirred attendees into action claiming there were “special opportunities afforded by a digest of the ideas and experiences of an association of business” and that “a vigilant and united body can readily discuss anomalies and abuses which if left unchecked work to the detriment of the community”. 

The Toowoomba Chamber of today, continues to build on those rock-solid foundations and values of community betterment.  It remains an independent voice of business based on the ideas and experiences of its members.  It is united in addressing issues that affect business.  It remains vigilant in monitoring government activities and regulations.  It remains bound by a promise to be the champion of the local business community. There it is that is in Chamber’s DNA.

On 12 October 1899 a well attended meeting was followed by the election of Chamber’s first office bearers.  Those first officer-bearers with their familiar names, seem so very long ago.  They were bakers, builders, and traders from a different world.  But they had some solid ideas, and we owe them enormous gratitude.  How the organisation then evolved and survived through historic events such as the Federation of Australia, Depression, wars, technological advancement, natural disasters as well as a cycle of economic boom and bust was up to subsequent leaders – and there have been many.  Leaders who need to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Founding President RW Scholefield

There are 72 leaders’ names written in Gold Script on Toowoomba Chamber’s Past President’s Honour Board.  Together they cover almost 125 years of history – good and not so good.  Several names are shared by road, buildings, and products (such as gin).  But as we approach our 125-year celebrations, what do we know about the name at the very top of the honour board, founding president RW Scholefield?

Find out more about our first President, in the rebranded Toowoomba Chamber Business Journal, now called the Scholefield in his honour, by visiting our Business Journal page.

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