The Bellevue Hotel, was built in 1890 as a two storey building, the hotel rooms were located on the top level, and on the ground level was reception, the restaurant, kitchen and bar.1 In the early hours of 13 July 1954, a fire started within the hotel and in less than an hour the Bellevue had burnt to the ground. Luckily, the only people in the building were the owner-licensee of the hotel, Reginald Fletcher, his wife and several employees. They all ran from the premises as the building burst into flames. Fortunately, there were no guests in the hotel at the time.2
The wall of flames from the hotel reached buildings on the opposite side of the street. One shop facing the hotel briefly caught fire and the windows of neighbouring shops cracked. A little house beside the hotel also caught alight but the blaze was quickly extinguished. The local volunteer brigade pumped water from a nearby lake as the water from the hotel’s pool was inaccessible. Buckets were passed from hand to hand, but the blaze was not controlled until the hotel had been completely gutted. The fire was believed to have started in the bar, it was discovered by Mr Bert Belton, the owner’s son-in-law. The fire caused more than £40,000 ($1.4 million) worth of damage, along with a loss of £300 ($10,000) in cash and £200 ($7000) in jewellery.3 The hotel was rebuilt on the same site as the one storey brick Bellevue Hotel we all know and love today.
Author: Teagan Nicholson, Year 9, Great Lakes College Tuncurry.
1 Great Lakes Historical Cooperative Society, Tuncurry: Tapestry of a Town, Tuncurry: 2011, 123.
2 Northern Champion, 13 July 1954, 1.
3 Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 1954, 8; Prices are estimated to be equivalent in today’s money using the RBA’s pre-decimal inflation calculator, https://www.rba.gov.au/calculator/annualPreDecimal.html