Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Myer's Explosion

Myer's Explosion

On the 4th of October 1928, Adelaide woke to the news a massive explosion in it's city centre.

“A terrific explosion of gas occurred on the second floor of the Myer Emporium, Limited (late James Marshall's) early on Thursday Afternoon. A carpenter sustained concussion” - The Register, Friday 5th Oct. 1928

The building was undergoing reconstruction, with new showrooms

and facilities being installed, and a new ceiling being installed on the 3rd floor, which had just been completed the day previously.

Not long after 1pm on the Thursday a large explosion rocked the Myer Emporium, causing the veranda to shake. People along Stephens Place, frightened ran into the street and watched as the whole veranda shook, and smoke began to emanate from some of the buildings windows.
What could have been a very tragic day happened whilst most worker were out on their lunch break, but some of the female staff on the 2nd floor of the building were so shocked by the explosion, they fainted, and were sent home – the most serious injury of the day was that of a carpenter, Mr Alfred Broadbridge, who had been working in the north western corner of building, where it is thought the explosion may have emanated from.
Front of Myer's Emporium in 1936
Mr Broadbridge was struck with a falling object, and rendered unconscious, later he was taken to the Adelaide Hospital suffering concussion, and was held for observation

Earlier that day, employees on the second floor had complained about the ongoing smell of gas, a supervisor looked into the situation and closed of the gas mains until they could be inspected, however, the leaking gas had made its way into the floor/ceiling cavity between levels two and three and accumulated. It was unclear what ignited the gas, but the explosion was heard clearly throughout the area.
Rear entry of James Marshalls,
which would become Myer's Emporium
Small fires broke out, but due to a few brave employees, and the Central Fire Station staff, these were doused pretty quickly, resulting in a minimal amount of damage.

What could have been a disastrous event in Adelaide's history was averted with no single loss of life, and no major damage.

© 2013 Allen Tiller

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