A TERRIFIC explosion shook the Empire Hotel at Nowra on the NSW South Coast in the early hours of Friday October 10 1930.
A bedroom, occupied by 63-year-old James McGregor, was completely wrecked when the explosion shook the pub to its foundations at 3.30am.
McGregor, an employee of Cambewarra Shire Council, was found lying on the floor of his room with an ear blown-off, and a shocking wound to the right side of his body.
While the coroner gave an open verdict to McGregor’s death, after insufficient evidence, some newspapers reported that the council worker had committed suicide.
The Braidwood Review reported: “The cause of the explosion is some what of a mystery, but it is believed that McGregor committed suicide by placing gelignite on the floor and then lying on top of it and applying a match, as he had a match-box in his hand with the top off when picked up.”
The force of the explosion blew a hole about eight inches in diameter in the floor, while a housemaid in another room was thrown out of her bed.
The Government Medical Officer and police were immediately called to the pub, but McGregor was unconscious on their arrival, and never afterwards spoke.
Arrangements were made to take him to Berry Hospital, but he died just as the police were putting him on the stretcher.
Categories: NSW hotels