Extract from the Tarnagulla and Llanelly Courier of 29 April 1882.
Transcribed by George Swinburne, great grandson of Thomas Comrie

About noon yesterday the townspeople were suddenly alarmed by a terrific noise, as if an explosion had taken place, and upon entering the street and witnessing the clouds of steam and innumerable pieces of timber and bricks flying in the air in the vicinity of the newly-established flour mill, it at once became evident that the boiler of the engines at the mill had exploded. It being well known that several persons were working about premises the excitement caused was most intense and scores of men, women and children ran to the scene of the disaster, which proved the most serious of the kind that had ever transpired in this district. Immediately upon the steam disappearing, dozens of willing hands were ready to assist those who, it was evident, must have been seriously, if not fatally, injured. The first brought out was Mr W Hargraves; immediately after Mr H Joyce was carried out. Both were removed to the Victoria Hotel, and attended to by Dr Green. They were found to be dreadfully scalded and bruised. Mr Joyce was subsequently removed to his own residence, and Mr Hargraves who was considered to be the most seriously injured, was conveyed to the Dunolly Hospital. Messrs Bousfield, senior and junior, who were in charge of the engine, beyond being badly scalded, were found not to be seriously hurt. It being known that Mr J.H.Smith was in the engine-room at the time of the explosion, and being still missing, grave apprehensions were entertained that something of a more serious nature had occurred. The debris was removed as expeditiously as possible, and the body of the unfortunate man was found jammed in between the fly-wheel and the wall, life been quite extinct. It is surmised that the deceased was thrown into the fly-wheel and carried round for a few revolutions, as the body was frightfully mutilated, and extricated with great difficulty. The sad occurrence cast quite a gloom over the town, business being almost entirely suspended for the rest of the day, and the scene of the accident was visited by crowds of people from the outskirts of the town. Mr Rosman's office, which is situated in front of the engine-room, escaped being blown up as the large stack of the building intervened between the boiler and the office. Mr Rosman was sitting at the table at the time speaking to Mr Hawkins. The panels of the back door were blown in, and the concussion through Mr Rosman down, but fortunately the large stack of the rear warded off the shock, throwing the debris right across the street, and it was singularly fortunate that no person passed at the time, as the broken material came such forced as to cause pieces of brick to go clear through the gable and verendah of the premises on the other side of the street owned by Mrs Venables. The cause of the explosion is variously stated by different persons, but there is no doubt that it was caused by the bursting of the tube, and a full inquiry will doubtless be needed in due course. The deceased, Mr Smith, was one of the oldest and most respected townsmen and was universally esteemed for his kind and genial disposition. He was regarded as a most consistent Christian man, and was ever foremost in assisting those who were in trouble or bereaved and his untimely end is regretted by all, and the greatest sympathy is manifested towards Mrs Smith and her sons in their sudden bereavement.

We understand that the machinery is connection with the mill was just completed, it was to be handed over to Mr Comrie, the proprietor, yesterday, and that it was to be started in the usual orthodox style today, had it not been for this unfortunate occurrence. Mr Comrie is undoubtedly a heavy loser and great sympathy is expressed towards him in having to suffer such a loss in the early career of an enterprise which would so materially benefit the town and district.

James Cheetham Esq, J P and Messrs Comrie, Ousley J H Smith and Dr Green, Geo Minto and W H Beresfield were summoned, the result being that it was decided by the magistrate "that the death of Mr John Hutton Smith had been caused by the accidental explosion of the boiler of the flour mill".

The Inquiry was further adjourned to 3:00 PM of May 1st at the Shire Hall, Dunolly, when the following evidence was taken:
Dr Wolfenden, sworn, said: Am a legally qualified medical practitioner, and resident surgeon of the Dunolly District Hospital. Patient Christopher William Hargraves was admitted to the institution on Friday at about 3:30 PM he was suffering from severe shock to the system, caused by an extensive scalding to almost the whole surface of his body limbs, and face. He died on Saturday morning at about 8 o'clock, having never rallied. The cause of death was shock to the system as above produced.

The following verdict was recorded "I find the deceased Christopher William Hargraves, met his death, through injuries received by the accidental explosion of a steam boiler at Tarnagulla on the 28th of April 1882".


A magisterial inquiry was held at the Dunolly District Hospital by Jas. Cheetham Esq. JP on Saturday, 29th April touching the death of Christopher Wm. Hargreaves, who died in the institution on the morning of the same day.

Thomas Comrie, sworn, said:
Am a storekeeper, residing at Tarnagulla, and proprietor of a flour mill in that township. The deceased Christopher Wm. Hargreaves was working at the mill on the 28th inst. Between 12 and 1 o'clock on that day I was in the engine room with several others and the engine was just started. Messrs. Minto, Kilburn, Bousfield and Son, and several others were also there. The engine was in charge of Bushfield and Son. Saw deceased there. Left the engine room in company with Mr Minto and one or two others to go up into the mill to see how the belts etc, were working. Had only just got to the upper story when I heard a loud report, which thoroughly shook the building. Someone said "The boiler has burst" and the steam was seen rising from the boiler. At once rushed downstairs and attempted to enter the engine room, but was driven back by the steam is and smoke. Next saw deceased at Daviss hotel and was told that he had rushed out another door. Met Joyce as he was coming out of the room, exclaiming until "I'm killed I'm killed", someone was helping him out. It was half an hour after that I saw the deceased. He was then in bed. Dr Green was attending him. Got oil and lime water for him, with which the doctor dressed to scalds. Sometime afterwards I consulted with Dr Green and he advised his removal to the Dunolly Hospital. Assisted to put into the trap and did not see him afterwards alive. Identify the body as that of Christopher Wm. Hargraves. He was a married man and left a widow and one child who reside at Tarnagulla.
Owing to the absence of Dr Wolfenden, the inquiry was adjourned to Tarnagulla on 30 April at 12:30 pm, at the Golden Age Hotel, when the following evidence was taken:

Edward Green, sworn, said:
Am a legally qualified medical practitioner, residing in Tarnagulla. On Friday the 28th inst I was called to see the deceased Christopher William Hargraves. Found the upper and lower extremities severely scalded as well as the back and chest. Dressed the scalds, and recommended his removal of the Dunolly District Hospital. Recognise the body shown to me to-day as that of Christopher W Hargraves, who I attended at Tarnagulla last Friday. My opinion is that he died from shock to the nervous system cause by severe scalds.

Emma Hargraves, sworn, said:
have seen the body of deceased which I recognise as the body of my late husband Christopher William Hargraves. Last saw him alive about 2 PM on Friday, the 28 Inst. He was then at the Victoria Hotel, severely scalded. He said he thought he would be in right soon. He was then taken to the Dunolly Hospital. He was twenty-seven years of age last August and was a native of Lancashire.

John Ousley, sworn, said:
Am a blacksmith residing at Tarnagulla. On Friday, 28th inst, heard a noise like thunder, and running out saw something had happened at the mill. Called my partner and we ran down the street towards the mill. Then noticed deceased run out of the mill and heard him say "For Gods sake go and help Joyce". Afterwards saw him lying in the Victoria Hotel and assisted Dr Green to dress his wounds. Then helped to lift him into the trap to be conveyed to the Dunolly District Hospital. Did not see him again alive.
Recognise the body shown to me this morning as that of Christopher Wm Hargraves, who was injured at the flour mill.