Great Fire of Brisbane

( photo by courtesy of Tramway Museum, Ferny Grove. Brisbane)


the original types of Electric Trams in Brisbane were the “ Ten Bench Tram Cars” above and the “ Matchbox Tram Car” and the first recorded travel of Electric Trams was along Commercial Road, Newstead.Footnote:The last Electric Tram ran in Brisbane in December 1962.


Evening- The whole of the business premises and private residences in the deemed most valuable site in the city of  Brisbane were lost to the perils of  fire. The fire was  first noticed about 7.30pm on  Thursday, 1st.December, 1864 burning in a cellar beneath a drapery store at the corner of  Albert and Queen Streets.


Some 50 houses and places of business in Queen Street comprising  two banks ( The Union Bank & Bank of New South Wales), three hotels  ( including  McAdam’s  Sovereign Hotel) and four drapery establishments and then whole of the shops in Albert Street  from “Stewart & Hemmant’s” down to “Ballantyne and McNab’s coach factory”, though the latter miraculously escaped  damage.

Some 6000  persons assembled and watched with utmost  decorum the  progress of the conflagration as it consumed structure after structure in a  north-easterly wind.


Indeed, the great fire resulted in devastation of the whole block lying within the boundaries of Queen, George, Elizabeth and Albert Streets became a mass of smoking ruins.


Many Insurance Companies including “The Pacific” and “the Queensland” and the Sydney Insurance Offices suffered with losses of least an equal amount- something under 4,000 Pounds. The total loss of property was in the vicinity of 60,000 POUNDS, indeed -an enormous sum in those days


Though the conflagration was intense the casualties were few and none of them were of a nature. It is recorded that Mr. Cutbush and other men got up onto the roof of two shops occupied and kept as an oyster saloon by Mr. Williams, with the intention of  pulling the structures down to impede the  progress of  the fire. However this was not to be and although Mr Cutbush and one other man stayed on the burning building until there was actually not sufficient timber to support them and they fell through into the  flames  beneath. From which perilous position they were  quickly rescued though Mr. Cutbush was severely injured in the fall sustaining a severe wound to the throat  and was  insensible  for half  an hour. On his coming to the wound was dressed and a  speedy recovery is            anticipated. (Note- Mr. George Cutbush was Captain of the “Third Volunteer Brigade” – yr.1868).


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