Monday, January 25, 2010

Fire guts Inverell's historic Byron Arcade

Back in July 2008  in a New history of Inverell's Byron Arcade I wrote of the work of the Inverell Family History Group in documenting the history of Inverell's historic Byron Byron Arcade fire NDLArcade. Sadly, the building has now been gutted by fire.

The attached photo from The Northern Leader shows the scale of the fire.   Thirteen weatherboard units and six businesses in the CBD were destroyed.
While my thoughts are with the twelve people made homeless by the fire and the business owners who have to rebuild, I also thought of the loss of Inverell's history.

The Family History Group itself lost its office in the blaze. I imagine that this included a lot of carefully collected records.

Inverell has been very lucky in the work of its local historians, including Elizabeth Wiedamann's two books. Elizabeth and I did postgraduate studied together at UNE and I have recently been re-reading the first volume (here and here). As Elizabeth records, Inverell has had a history of fires in the main street.
John Caling kindly sent me some photos of the aftermath of the fire, supplied to him by a relative in the Family History Group.

This first photo shows the front of the building after the fire from roughly the same positByron Arcade after fire Jan 2010 6.ion as the first photo.

At the time of the fire, the Inverell District Family History Group was working on a Pioneer Register and was seeking contributions from the community. The Register was to include include the names of people who lived in Inverell and surrounding areas prior to 1910.

My family will miss out on inclusion since we came a little later. In 1912 my grandfather, David Drummond, came to Inverell to manage Maxwelton, a wheat block created out of the newly subdivided Bannockburn Station. Mum was born while they were living there, so I can claim a personal Inverell connection.

We have some family photos of this period. I must do a post or posts some time on the Inverell Byron Arcade after fire Jan 2010 2. connection. Its actually quite important in our family history.

The last photo is another shot of the damage from a different perspective.

I hope that the Family History Group has a copy of the material already collected on the Pioneer Register.

It must be very hard from their viewpoint to face the challenge of re-building.  


I have been getting a lot of hits on this post, so that I thought that I should do a progressive update just pointing to key press articles. I will continue the update over the next few days:


tonyb said...

What does anyone expect in case of loss (hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flood, fire, etc.)?

The disaster itself is news. What happens after the dust settles is the story.
Insurance policyholders, and more importantly disaster survivors, need to be informed they have access to basic rights and information. It is available! Perhaps what big government/big corporations cannot deliver, citizens can.
Visit for more information.

Antone P. Braga
PO Box 60
Montgomery, PA 17752 US
I asked, "Where are the sacred rights of an insurance policyholder?"
And because they were secret, I said, "I must create access."

Anonymous said...

On behalf of the Inverell District Family History Group I'm pleased to report that we have new premises and plan to re-open on Monday 8th February upstairs at 129Otho Street, opposite the Centrelink offices. Whilst we've lost our library,we've managed to salvage most of the material the wonderful fire brigade men were able to obtain from the building after the fire. Our insurance will cover furniture, computers etc. and we've had offers of replacement books. Information regarding several of our current projects was offsite,and the Pioneer Register will continue but may be delayed. Forms are available on our website
Our members are determined to continue and we are working hard to rebuild as soon as possible. The support we've received from the family history and history world has been wonderful.
Ann Hodgens

Jim Belshaw said...

What wonderful news, Ann. I will bring your comment up as part of a full post.