Torquay Pub Burns Down
On 4th July 1976, Torquay residents woke on a wintery Sunday morning to learn their much-loved 85-year-old Torquay Hotel had been gutted by fire.
The blaze was reported at 3.30 AM and an eyewitness said that Fire fighters arrived in the early hours of the morning to find the fire well alight. Their work was hampered by the fact that the hotel was locked from the inside. It is believed the fire started in the ladies lounge. Three bars, guest rooms and the managers flat were destroyed.
As police picked through the smouldering ruins the following day the town was a buzz with rumours. The Geelong Advertiser reported that there had been a bomb scare at the hotel only days earlier, and also that only hours before the blaze an anonymous caller allegedly threatening to set fire to the premises.
The police refused to be drawn on the cause of the blaze but the CIB and forensic science and arson squads had been called in.
Joe Sweeny, the Captain of the Torquay fire Brigade, was reported as saying that the fire was well alight when his team arrived and he was not prepared to hazard a guess as to the cause of the blaze. Fire crews from Torquay, Anglesea, Geelong City and Geelong West attended.
One fireman Ted Duvall from Bellbrae was taken to hospital after a brick wall fell on him.
All that remained after the fire was an overflow guest room wing and the recently built bottle shop. The damage was estimated at almost $2.million
The irony of the fact the old Palace hotel had been saved from the 1940 fires by locals and members of the light horse was not lost on locals. The old Palace Hotel was one of the few building to have survived that terrible fire.
It was a sad night for the little town and many long time residents lamented the loss old the old pub, and felt that the new hotel that rose from the ashes never recaptured the charm.