The Groom family, for many years a major influence and support in local Wesleyanism, were timber merchants, dealing in timber from all over Shropshire and much of Wales. The founder of the business was Richard Groom (1778-1866), who was converted under the evangelical vicar, John Eyton. His sons Thomas and Richard continued the family business and were influential members of the New Street society in Wellington. Their influence spared the WM society in Wellington the serious disruption that hit the other coalfield societies in 1849-50; and they were behind the building of the Watling Street mission, the day school and the second New Street chapel in the 1880s. (Of the £3,342 subscribed for the building fund beforehand, £1,545 came from the Groom family and their relations.)
Thomas Groom (1816-1889), trained as an engineer in Birmingham before coming back to the family business. By 1861 he was living at Highfield House, which he had built on the outskirts of the town. He was president of the local YMCA and contributed substantially to the building of its popular headquarters in the town. He was a local preacher and a class leader in the New Street society. Of his children, Thomas Richard Groom (c.1850 - ? ) was a society steward at New Street chapel in the 1880s, but had moved to Hereford by 1891. His daughter Lydia Groom (1855- ? ) married Edward Brentnall (1857-1928; e.m. 1881).
Richard Groom jun. (1818-1892) moved from New Street to Arleston Manor and then to the Dothill estate, which he bought from Lord Forester. As well as being a partner in the family firm he was chairman of the Haybridge Ironworks and was wealthier than his brother and more active in public affairs, as a magistrate, chairman of the local School Board, chairman of the Guardians and a County Alderman. The two brothers supported the Methodist John Bayley, as a young man in 1880, when he left the Board School on Constitution Hill where he had been Headmaster to set up a private school in Albert Road, a most successful venture which eventually became Wrekin College.
Richard Groom was married twice. Of the children by his first wife, Richard Alfred Groom (1846-1912) succeeded him as head of the family firm and as chairman of the Haybridge Iron Co. He was Church treasurer at New Street chapel 1878-1905; also a JP and chairman of Wellington UDC 1905-6. A younger son, Clement Groom (d. 1908), also an ironmaster, succeeded his brother as treasurer at New Street. Of the children by Richard Groom's second marriage, Harriett Groom (1864- ? ) married John Wesley Clift (1856-1939), a carriage manufacturer who was superintendent of the flourishing New Street Sunday School for half a century. Charles Groom (1865- ? ) served as organist and society steward at New Street church. Cecil Frederick Groom (1867-1953; e.m. 1895) entered the ministry and married the daughter of Joseph Bentley (1840-1903; e.m. 1864); their daughter Nora married Frederick Noel Cooke (1879-1962; e.m. 1904).
Entry written by: JHL
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