THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Fire destroys part of the Gobbins Hotel

From the News Letter, March 22, 1921

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 6:00 am
An old postcard depicts the scenic splendour of the Gobbins cliffs, Co Antrim. Picture: Larne Times archive
An old postcard depicts the scenic splendour of the Gobbins cliffs, Co Antrim. Picture: Larne Times archive

The News Letter on this day a century ago reported that “destructive outbreak of fire” had occurred at the Gobbins Hotel adjoining the Ballycarry railway station in Co Antrim.

For several hours strenuous efforts were made to save two villas, number one and two Causeway Villas, the property of Mr John Hawkins, the Ballycarry stationmaster.

The fire had its origin in a lock-up shop where a grocery, hardware and drapery business was carried on under the name of Headles and Company by Mr W J Headles and Mr Walker of Larne.

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These premised were, it was stated, closed about the usual hour on the night of the blaze by Mr Headles, who had subsequently went to Whitehead.

He was returning to him home at Islandmagee when he noticed the place was on fire.

When detected the flames had a firm hold on the shop, and in a few moments the bar of Mrs King’s public house was also engulfed by the flames.

Adjoining Mrs King’s public house was a large residential part of the building, which included a hotel business which had been carried on by Mrs King’s late husband, Mr Robert King.

This building was rented to Mr H W Brown, and Mrs Brown and her family were alerted to the fire by Mr Daniel Hawkins.

The News Letter reported: “At that time the house was filled with smoke, and members of the family had to make a hurried departure, seizing whatever articles of clothing that lay convenient.”

The residents of the Causeway Villas also had a similar experience. Mrs Dick, “whose husband is at sea”, had barely time to wrap some of her children in blankets and run out to avoid suffocation from the dense smoke which was filling her dwelling.

The wind carried the flames in the direction of Mrs Brown’s residence and in the space of 20 minutes “the entire block of of valuable property, extending on a frontage of over 80 feet, was wrapped in flames”.

Several hundred volunteers were soon engaged in an attempt to save Mr Hawkin’s property, and fortunately an ample supply of water was available at the railway station. This was brought in buckets and thrown on the flames from the roof of Causeway Villas, and Messrs Robert Dick, Dan Hawkins and Thomas Ross succeeded in cutting off all the burning woodwork leading to Mr Hawkin’s property.