Sensational fire destroys Bombala business house in 1905

Bombala historian and member of the Bombala and District Historical society, Dave Goodyer was sent an old photo album by Liz Hayne of Sydney that was full of photos from days gone by in Bombala.

GONE: The old A Alexander building formerly located in Maybe Street was destroyed after a fire and massive explosion tore through the premises in 1905.

GONE: The old A Alexander building formerly located in Maybe Street was destroyed after a fire and massive explosion tore through the premises in 1905.

“It was an amazing album and when I was looking through it I uncovered a photo of a building that I didn’t recognise, however from the horizon I recognised it was in Bombala.

“I couldn’t work out where the building was so I started researching.  I was looking through old Bombala photos and found one from Anne Kater taken in 1891 and in it you could see the building.

“We started to see if we could work out a timeline and found a photo with the building and the first bridge in Bombala that was being pulled down.

“From that we able to establish a date and I started to try and find out what had happened to it.”

Mr Goodyer spent time going through paper clippings and eventually found articles in the Bombala Times and the Delegate Argus and Border Post.

“It was good to be able to join the dots together and work out where the building was. It was located in Maybe Street where the Landmark building is today,” he said.

The Bombala Times reported on Friday, February 3, 1905 – Sensational Fire, Businesses places in Maybe Street, destroyed.

On Tuesday morning just about 4 o’clock a loud explosion suddenly suddenly roused nearly every resident in town. Those who were near to where the explosion occurred jumped out of bed and rushing to windows or doors discovered the startling fact that the business premises of Mr N S Goodman were in flames. At this time the fire seemed to be burning fiercely on the upstairs floor and the flames were issuing from the roof and the back wall near which it afterwards transpired the explosion had taken place. The store in question was a two storied brick building at the back of which was a low galvanised iron building used as a produce store by Messrs Jackson Brothers. Mr Goodman’s store contained a large stock of general store goods, consisting of drapery, clothing, grocery, crockery, etc. and in Mr Jackson’s premises were quantities of corn, hides, chaff, scales, wool press and other articles used in connection with the business. The flames gained pace very rapidly and although a number of people quickly assembled it was found that nothing could be saved as Mr Jackson’s place was then fully ablaze as well as Mr Goodman’s. Constable Turner made a great effort to save the little iron safe containing Mr Jackson’s books but was not successful until Mr A H Davis dashed into the burning building and the two together managed to get it out. When is was seen that nothing could be done to save these properties attention was turned to the adjacent buildings. There was a slight breeze blowing and this carried the flames towards Mr Hopkins’ jeweller’s shop, a weatherboard building about 25 yards from the brick store.

The explosion in the first instance was so great that it cracked some of the window’s in the Bank of New South Wales and the Commercial Hotel. It is alleged to have been caused by some explosives that were stored in the upstairs room.