Ris­ing from ashes of flimsy fa­cades

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - IAN FRAZER

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.

Share your mo­ment in time with Bul­letin read­ers. Email your story and pic­ture/ s to ian. frazer@ news. com. au or phone Ian on 4722 4523 Pic­ture: JAMES COOK UNIVER­SITY SPE­CIAL COL­LEC­TIONS ARCHIVE

Po­lice, fire­men and by­standers gather out­side the smoul­der­ing re­mains of the Geisha Cafe in Flin­ders St, 1915.

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