Sandford Fire of 1871
John Scott Grant's "Caledonian Union Hotel"
Sandford-on-the-Wannon, Glenelg & Wannon Region, South West Victoria, Australia
"The Hamilton Spectator" (Hamilton, Vic.) Saturday, 31st December 1870.
BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH. Melbourne, December 30.

Casterton.--J. S. Grant's Caledonian United [sic Union] Hotel, at Sandford, was entirely burnt down on Wednesday. The fire began in the roof about eleven a.m. The stock and most of the furniture was saved. Two (2) stacks of hay, the stables and outbuildings remain intact. The walls of the hotel have fallen down. The premises were insured for three thousand (3000) pounds. The origin of the fire is unknown. Only the kitchen fire was lighted in the house. All the neighbours worked hard to save property.

"The Hamilton Spectator" (Hamilton, Vic.) Wednesday, 4th January 1871.


The details that have reached us of the fire at Grants Caledonian Hotel, last Wednesday, are scanty, but they appear to contain all that is known of the affair. It appears that at about 11 a.m., a storeman in the employ of the Messrs. Lesser observed sparks proceeding from the roof of the building, and immediately gave the alarm. It was then found that the shingles alongside a stack of chimneys had caught fire, and that the room under that portion of the roof was also in flames. In a few minutes the fire burst through the roof, which shortly afterwards fell in with a crash, but not before the furniture and stock-in-trade in the lower storey of the building had been removed by the crowd of by-standers who had collected. The furniture in the up-stair rooms was all consumed. The verandah and some fencing were pulled down, and this prevented the fire spreading to the outbuildings and to two haystacks in the rear, which were saved. In about three hours after after the outbreak, the fire had burnt itself out, and nothing remained but the blackened walls, which afterwards fell in. Mr. Grant, and the men employed by him, were haymaking at the farm at Dwyer's Creek, and Mr. Grant's, sons were at Casterton. The men in the establishment had been away since the early morning, and Mrs Grant and her daughter were almost the only occupants of the hotel when the fire was discovered. Nevertheless plenty of help arrived. Water was passed in buckets upstairs to the fire, but without any perceptible effect, and everything was done that could be thought of to stay the progress of the flames. The hotel was one of the largest in the district, and it is said that the insurance of 3000 will not nearly cover the loss.

"The Leader (Melbourne, Vic.) Saturday, 7th January 1871.


On Wednesday last there occurred at Sandford a fire by which the well known and old established house known as the Caledonia Hotel, at Sandford, was entirely destroyed. A young man named John Burns was riding down the principal street of Sandford when he saw what appeared to be sparks issuing from the roof of the Caledonia Hotel, near a stack of chimneys. At this time the fire was confined to the roof--the shingles of which, dry as tinder, were burning freely--and the one room. Had there been a fire engine the house could have been saved, as a hose playing on the roof would have effectually checked the fire ; but there was no such thing at command, nor was there any ladder by which the roof could be reached, nor any trap door from the house into the roof. Even had there been this last, the fire might probably have been got under. As it was, the men, however anxious and eager, could do but little good. There was a tolerable supply of water in a well in the back yard, and a line was quickly formed and buckets passed along with as much rapidity as possible. These were passed up-stairs and thrown into the burning room ; but their effect was absolutely nothing. Slowly, but steadily, the fire gained ground, spreading over the roof, and from there to the rooms below. About an hour after the fire was first discovered the roof fell in with a thundering crash, and the large building then became one huge burning mass. It is generally considered that the fire was caused by a spark, from the chimney alighting on the shingle roof. Nearly all the bedroom furniture was destroyed, but the down stairs furniture, the stock and stores, were saved. Mr. Grant was insured for 3000, but he says that he will be still a considerable loser.

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