|Bridge Street in March 1866 (courtesy of State Library of NSW) and today 2012|
In doing a little research on the Lands Building last week I came across newspaper articles (Empire 23 March 1866; Sydney Morning Herald 16 July 1932) on an explosion of nitroglycerin from two glass bottles stored in the cellars of Molison & Black ship brokers at 17 Bridge Street, 6.30 pm Sunday, 4 March 1866. “Nobel’s Patent Blasting Oil”, was a quite unknown substance promoted by Mr. Theodorre Winckler of A.Nobel & Co. :
“Consumers will prefer nitro-glycerine to blasting powder, on account of its tremendous force... it is a splendid invention”.
Witnesses saw debris thrown 150 feet in the air, and a 3-4 feet chasm was formed in the earthen floor. Windows along Bridge Street were shattered.
Having ruled out such factors as a burglar mistaking the blasting oil for spirits, the inquiry focused on the nature of the substance to suddenly explode, the implications for ships unwittingly importing such substances and recommended reasonable distances that commercial premises should be from dwellings to safely continue storing the oil in the city or suburbs.
|"The Late Explosion at Sydney"|
Wood engraving by Frederick Grosse 1866 (courtesy of State Library of Victoria)