Thomas Smith was a prominent trade unionist and at the forefront of the campaign for the eight hour day. Born in Hereford, England in 1823, he came to Australia in 1849. Moving to Mount Alexander and Bendigo he took up gold prospecting with some success before returning to Melbourne and taking up work as a carpenter. As such he worked on many significant buildings of the time including the Melbourne Town Hall.
In 1856 he attended a Union meeting which saw him become part of the committee examining the prospect of the eight hour day. On March 26 1856 he moved a motion at a large union meeting that the eight hour day was wanted for the building trades.
In 1858 he purchased land in South Preston in Oakover Road. He became a Government inspector of works whilst at the same time continued to champion the eight hour day. In 1893 he became the President of the Eight Hours’ Pioneer Association.
He died in his Oakover Road home in 1900.
Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1851 – 1890. (1981). Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press.