Rising from ashes of flimsy facades
It is likely George Convey, who was convicted some years ago for attempting to murder W Fraser, [ Charters Towers] then municipal water- cart man, by shooting, is likely to be shortly released, after serving some five or six years. The act was attributed at the time to religious mania. The bullet struck Fraser on the nose passing thence to the back of the brain, where it still lodges and is a constant source of pain. The Frasers are now living in New South Wales, and a gentleman who is interesting himself in the case of Convey, who is between 50 and 60 years of age, and on whom no doubt the five or six years incarceration has had its effect, has promised to provide for him. The members of the joint committee appointed by the City and Thuringowa Shire councils to consider erection of a bridge across Ross Creek, to connect South Townsville and Hermit Park, met at the Town Hall on Saturday morning. This was the first meeting of the committee and it is understood only preliminary business was discussed. At the Police Court on Saturday before magistrate Mr A. Dean, Georgina Arabella Muir was asked to show how and for what purpose she became in possession of certain liquor – to wit four dozen Lager beer and two gallons whisky. It was ordered that the 48 bottles of beer mentioned in the summons be forfeited and sold, or otherwise disposed of as the Minister directs. No order was made on the whisky. Defendant was ordered to pay 7s 6d costs. Members of the Excelsior Cricket Club met last Saturday at the Geisha to bid bon voyage to one of their members, Mr Robert Doig, who was leaving that day per Canberra to join the expeditionary forces at Enoggera. He was presented with a gold- mounted fountain pen in case, from his club mates. The presentation was made by Mr H. S. Thorley, captain of the club. Speeches were made by Messrs A. F. McPhee and J. Gates. The recipient suitably responded. its face against any further use of wood and iron in first- class blocks.
“The regulation as to firstclass blocks is a delusion and a snare if such trumpery materials may be used in our main street.”
Initial estimates put total damage at between £ 25,000 and £ 30,000.
The cause of the fire, which broke out at 3am, was not known, but it seems to have been centred on the popular Geisha refreshment rooms, operated by Miss Sarah Borrows.
Correspondents to the Bulletin debated in following days whether the fire brigade had wasted time in a futile battle to save the Geisha, at the expense of buildings at the edge of the blaze, such as the Johns- Grant Quality Store.
“It is generally
admitted that lack of judgment was shown in continuing to play water on the Geisha when it was a burning inferno and beyond all redemption,” wrote a reader pen- named Fire Dodger in a letter published on March 4.
A few days later, Townsville City Council approved an application from Miss Borrows to resume her business in a temporary timber- and- iron building, giving her three months to begin work on a proposed new brick premises.
The Bulletin reported the council’s decision on March 10, the day after running a letter in support of Miss Borrows under the pen name Just Some One:
“The many citizens of Townsville who gladly patronise this well- conducted establishment earnestly hope that the pluck and enterprise and the confidence shown in our city by the energetic proprietress, may be appreciated and rewarded by our city fathers.”
The Geisha officially reopened in 1916, equipped with a basement generator for electric lighting, and was gutted by fire again in 1929, soon after being sold by Miss Borrows.
Police told a coronial inquiry they were satisfied this was a case or arson, but had been unable to gather enough evidence to lay charges.
Police, firemen and bystanders gather outside the smouldering remains of the Geisha Cafe in Flinders St, 1915.