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Volume 2 (2009)

The Brian Boru Hotel

Pollen Street, Thames

Bay of Plenty Times, 12 June 1905:


THAMES, Sunday. A fire broke out this morning, about thrr o'clock, at the Brian Boru Hotel, Pollen St., owned and occupied by Mrs Kate Twohill.
The flames had a good hold of the building before the alarm was given.
The brigades were quickly on the spot and succeeded in confining the fire to the upper story and it was not long before the fire was completely subdued.
The whole of the back portion of the upper storey was completely gutted and the furniture destroyed.
After the fire had been extinguished, it was found that two of the boarders were missing and on search being made in the rooms occupied by them, their dead bodies were found, in both cases lying across the bed.
The names of the deceased were Peter McNab, of the firm Mason and McNab, monumental masons of Auckland, who leaves a wife and family, and Joseph Sheldon, bushman, working at Turua. Sheldon was a single man, 46 years of age.
The outbreak occurred immediately over the kitchen, the cause of the fire is not known.
Suspicions of foul play allayed.

Wanganui Herald, 1905:


The Brian Boru Hotel Destroyed
Two Lives Lost.
(Per United Press Association.)
Thames, June 11.
At three o'clock this morning the Brian Boru Hotel, a two-story building containing over 40 rooms, was discovered to be on fire. The outbreak took place in the large eastern wing. The flames spread with lightening-like rapidity, along the passage of the upper storey, rendering the escape of the occupants difficult. The fire had obtained a firm hold when the brigade appeared, and it was only suppressed when the whole of the upper portion had been destroyed. The lower part was completely gutted. All the inmates managed to escape - many clad in night apparel - except two, John McNab, a member of the firm of Mason and McNab, monumental masons, of Auckland, and Joseph Sheldon, a bushman from the Turua district near the Thames. The bedrooms of both were situated in the portion of the building where the fire raged fiercest. When the fire was overcome, the bodies of the unfortunate men were discovered in their rooms. McNab had partially dressed, and was evidently endeavouring to reach the door, when overcome by the suffocating fumes, to which he succumbed. His body, which was found alongside his bed, was partly burnt. Sheldon must have been asphyxiated with great suddenness. His body was found lying across his bed, only slightly burnt. McNab, who was about fifty years of age, leaves a wife and family in Auckland. Sheldon was single, and it is believed he has no relatives in the colony. Many inmates had narrow escapes and lost everything, including a goodly quantity of jewellery and valuables. The hotel was owned and occupied by Kate Twohill, an old resident of the Thames. The building was only rebuilt a few months ago. The insurances on the building and furniture are not available.

Burial Records from the Shortland Cemetery, Thames show that Joseph SHELDON aged 49 years, a native of Ireland was buried there on 12 June 1905. There is a death record for Peter McNAB in 1905 but he was not buried in Thames.

Catherine Twohill, a native of Ireland, died aged 78 years old on 8 Dec 1923. She is buried at Shortland Cemetery with many others of her family.

Wanganui Herald, 16 June 1905:


The Inquiry
(Per United Press Association.)
THAMES, June 16.
At the inquiry into the origin of the fire at Brian Boru Hotel, by which two men suffocated, no evidence was forthcoming as to how the fire commenced. Two men who left the premises, and subsequently re-entered the hotel by the window after closing time, accounted for their movements satisfactorily. The evidence was that the fire commenced outside the building, at the head of the fire escape steps.

The Brian Boru Hotel, Pollen Street, Thames
Click to enlarge the photograph.

The Brian Boru Hotel, Thames, as it is today.
Click to enlarge the photograph.



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