Main Road Fire, April 1862

From Hotels of Ballarat

There was another large fire in Main Road in April 1862.

History[edit | edit source]

A fire which is believed to have started in Roy's Hotel, destroyed another hotel, several other buildings, with one person killed.

GREAT FIRE AT BALLARAT. Another conflagration has happened at Ballarat. It occurred on Sunday morning, about half-past 2, and commenced at Roy's Hotel, a small one-storied wooden building, at the intersection of Humffray-street with the Main-road. Thence it spread through several adjacent buildings, and its progress was only stopped by the dismantling of some houses and shops, a work which was performed by the brigades with great celerity. From the time the alarm was given (says the reporter of the Argus) till the flames were stayed not twenty-live minutes elapsed. In that time five tolerably large houses were burnt, and four more pulled down by main force. It would be well if the story stopped here, and more had not to be told. The Main-road escaped, but a life has been lost. In the empty space, where so shortly before houses had been, but where then only tall chimneys and burning ends of uprights appeared above the charred and smoking fragments, some person noticed remains resembling those of a man. The suspicion formed was but too true. A Mr Eastwood,a young man who had only left England to join his brother and friends on Ballarat, had gone to bed on Saturday night, at the Scandinavian Hotel, and not being awoke by the alarm of fire, was burnt in his bed. So quick had been the fire, that it destroyed little more than the skin and outer covering of flesh. All the muscles were laid as bare as they are seen in an anatomical model, only blackened with fire, and the head was a mere skull. The poor fellow must apparently have died in great agony, judging from the disposition of the limbs. Strange to say, his watch, which remained on his person, though scorched, had not stopped. Mr Eastwood was quite a young man, and possessed a reversionary interest to considerable property in the mother country. Of the origin of the fire little is known, though much is said. 'The most probable story is the one most frequently told— viz., that Mrs Stewart, who was sitting up for her husband, accidentally set fire to some curtains in her room, and that the light wooden building caught fire before anything could be done.[1]


There was an inquest into the death of Joseph Eastwood:

The inquest upon the body of Mr. Joseph Eastwood, who was burned in the fire which took place at Ballarat on Sunday morning last, was held at the Rock of Cashel Hotel, Main-road, on Saturday, by the district coroner, Dr. Glendinning. The evidence adduced contained no new facts, nor threw any light upon the origin of the fire. Almost all that was required of the witnesses was their opinion as to the identification of the body, and such statements as simply showed that the deceased met his death by accident. It was elicited that Mr. Eastwood, who had carried on business on Specimen Hill, with a Mr. Scratcherd, as an ale and porter bottler, had entered the Scandinavian Hotel, after midnight, obtained a glass of brandy, and then went to bed in a room next to the bar. When the alarm of fire came the landlord knocked at every bedroom door, but the deceased, it would seem, did not hear the summons till too late. Dr. Sutherland described the state of the body, and his evidence showed that death was caused by fire and smoke. The jury returned a verdict finding that the human body before them was that of the late Joseph Eastwood, and that he met his death in the Scandinavian Hotel, on April 27th, by burning.[2]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1862 'GREAT FIRE AT BALLARAT.', Mount Alexander Mail (Vic. : 1854 - 1917), 30 April, p. 2. , viewed 12 Jan 2017,
  2. 1862 'MONDAY, MAY 5, 1862.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 5 May, p. 4. , viewed 12 Jan 2017,