The recipient of the testimonial, Thomas O’Grady (1824-90) had migrated to Melbourne in 1854, practising the trades of building and contracting. The Australian Dictionary of Biography records that he became a Councillor of the City of Melbourne in 1868. It lists one of his major achievements as the construction ‘with Leggett & Noonan [of] the fifty-six-mile (90 km) railway from Essendon to Seymour’. He was chairman of the Tramways Trust from its formation in 1884. His obituary in the Melbourne Herald (29 Apr 1890) reported: "DEATH OF ALDERMAN THOMAS O'GRADY. Today we have the sad duty of recording the death of two old colonists, who for many years, havo occupied very, prominent positions in building, commercial and municipal circles. The first of these is Alderman Thomas O'Grady, who died last night at his residence in Carlton. Mr O'Grady has been ill for some time, and at one period his death was expected any moment. Then he rallied, and strong hopes of his recovery were entertained; but he had a relapse, and expired as stated. The deceased gentleman was one of the oldest members of the City Council, in which he has held the various positions of Councillor, Alderman and Mayor. At the time of his death he sat as alderman for Victoria Ward. Mr O'Grady also at one time represented the City Council on the Harbor Trust, and was chairman of that body. He has been the council's representative on the Tramway Trust and was chairman of that body for some considerable time." As late as 1951, the Advocate (11 Oct 1951) stated that: "To Alderman Thomas O'Grady, Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 1872-3, is due the credit of the successful inauguration of Hospital Sunday. Alderman O'Grady was the first Catholic Lord Mayor of the city. He was elected a councillor for Smith Ward in 1868, and an alderman in 1869. In private life he was an extensive contractor, being a member of the firm of O'Grady, Leggett and Noonan, the contractors for the first section of the Northeastern Railways (between Melbourne and Seymour)."
This is a unique civic document, illustrating the life and contribution of Thomas O’Grady (1824-90), Melbourne City Councillor and first Chairman of the Melbourne Tramways Trust. It is historically significant in its recording of the development of Melbourne's public transport system. The design of the certificate and particularly the ebonised frame are artistically and aesthetically significant.
An illustrated testimonial presented to the first Chairman of the Melbourne Tramways Trust in 1886. The Testimonial is encased in an ebonized frame of the period. It includes the coat-of-arms of 12 cities, corporations, boroughs and towns, including that of Kew. At the head of the testimonial the engines used to drive the cable systems are illustrated. At the foot of the testimonial there is a picture of two cable trams.
Inscriptions & markings
The testimonial reads: ‘At the meeting of the Melbourne Tramways Trust held on the Fifth Day of February 1886, the following resolution was unanimously carried. That the thanks of the Melbourne Tramways Trust are due and are hereby accorded to Alderman Thomas O’Grady Hon. JP, the first Chairman of the Trust for the ability, courtesy and impartiality with which he has discharged his duties during the past two years, and the Trust heartily congratulates him on the successful opening during his term of office of the Richmond Tramway (the first Cable line constructed in Australia) and tenders him its earnest wishes for his future prosperity and welfare.’