- News of the day
Central Queensland Herald, Thursday 14 September 1939, page 20
Two rooms gutted by fire
Early morning blaze in Denham Street
ROCKHAMPTON, September 13.
Two rooms and contents in the top storey of a cafe conducted by Mr C. V. Armstrong in Denham Street were gutted by a fire which occurred about 4 o'clock yesterday morning.
The rooms were used for the storage of furniture and boxes.
Slight damage was caused to the contents of the cafe by smoke and water. The adjoining building is owned by Mr Rex Wilson, who conducts a sport depot. Here only slight damage was caused to the contents by water and smoke.
Mr Wilson, who lives at his shop, was awakened by a noise, and he noticed that the back room in Armstrong's cafe was on fire. The Fire Brigade was summoned and, with the aid of two engines from the head station and one from the North Rockhampton station, quickly had the flames under control.
The cafe, which is a wooden building is owned by the de Vino Estate, and with three others adjoining is insured for £3000 with the New Zealand Insurance Co. The contents of the cafe are insured for £350 - Southern Insurance Co. £150 and Ocean Insurance Co. £300.
Mr Wilson has his building insured for £700 with the Mercantile Mutual Insurance, and the contents for £305 with the Queensland Insurance Co.
Alexander Stewart and William Hemmant operated drapery businesses in Brisbane and Rockhampton between the 1860s and the 1890s.
In addition to their Brisbane store, Stewart and Hemmant opened a business in Rockhampton in 1862, soon after it was first occupied. Central Queensland historian Lorna McDonald gives the following description of the establishment and growth of the business in Rockhampton:
'James Stewart migrated to Australia in his twentieth year, having completed his apprenticeship in the drapery trade in Perth, Scotland. His lack of success on the Victorian gold-diggings prompted him to return to his own trade, first in Melbourne and then with his twin brother's [Alexander Stewart] firm in Brisbane - Hemmant & Stewart. In 1862 he was sent to open a branch in Rockhampton and did so in a shop owned by Surveyor A.F. Wood on the corner of Denham and Bolsover Streets. Despite much competition and a small population the business thrived and in mid 1864 Stewart moved the concern into the firm's newly built premises on the corner of East and Denham Streets 'with the largest stock yet offered to Rockhamptonites'. This was the first specialist drapery store in the town…' (McDonald)