(Editor’s Note: This is a story from the Christ Church Daylesford Parish News. Inspired by an early photograph of the Church and the W.E. Stanbridge Hall (then Common School No. 190), members of the local Parish have done some research.  In August, 1870, a great storm impacted the town and both the Church and the school were affected. The report below is from The Ballarat Courier of Friday August 19, 1870. Daylesford seems to have always been famous for its storms as there are other reports of storms to be found. At least back in those days they didn’t have Powercor, nor outages!)

Extract from the Ballarat Courier of Friday, August 19, 1870.

At Daylesford the storm was most destructive. The Daylesford Mercury of yesterday says:— An incessant pitiless rain had driven from the streets every one who could keep in doors. The barometer had fallen very low, and everything portended some extraordinary commotion in the atmosphere. Suddenly, about half-past three pm.— as nearly as possible the same time as the storm of 1867 broke upon us — the atmosphere became almost dark enough to require artificial light, a torrent of hail descended, forked lightning darted from ominous clouds overhead, and above the deafening roar of stones on a hundred roofs, was heard the booming of heaven’s artillery. Presently, something thick as a cloud of dust rushed up Vincent street from the north, and a heavy cart belonging to a man named Trewren, was overturned like a straw, and the frightened animal left kicking on the ground.  Immediately the balcony of the Manchester hotel was wrenched off, and with the brick parapet and part of the second storey, smashed a heap of rubbish into the road way. Next the wind forced in the window of Mr Cross, sharebroker, and demolished his verandah. That of Mr Pozzi, colonial wine- seller, next door, followed. Then the verandahs of Mr Pasher, fruiterer; Mr M’Gillivray, saddler;and the verandahs of two untenanted shops of Mr Murray were demolished in the twinkling of an eye, as the atmospheric wave passed up the street; the verandah of Mr Broadbent, draper, at the corner of Victoria and Vincent streets, being also torn to pieces. But a far worse misfortune befell Mr Wright, chemist, who, unconscious that his own premises were endangered, was looking at the wreck in the street. The wind caught the brick storeroom in which he kept his surplus stock of drugs, bottles, etc, and with a crash, roof and sides collapsed, smashing, we fear, most of the valuable contents. At this moment sheets of corrugated iron and zinc, shingles, and even planks of wood were flying through the air in all directions, and the only wonder is that no one was injured, or even killed, by these dangerous missiles. The verandah of Mr Vernon’s house, corner of Camp and Victoria streets, the windows of Mr Carr, Duke street, the   verandah and fence of Prospect House, and the   verandah and northern fence of Mr White, school   master, next door, were also levelled. Doubtless   other damage of the same nature was done elsewhere, though not to the present moment, we have not heard of any. Out of the front windows of the Wesleyan parsonage was likewise forced in badly, and the iron roofing uncovered so that   the rain entered freely. But these, we are   sorry to say, were the minor evils of the  storm. The Catholic schoolroom, a wooden  building, 50 or 60 feet long, was struck by the wind or the lightning, and crumbled into a heap of splintered timbers. Happily, though the school  master and a teacher were inside at the time, they made their escape unhurt, and there is cause for greater thankfulness in the fact that the children had been dismissed before the squall. A more unfortunate event even than the demolition of this schoolroom was the partial destruction of   Common School, No. 190. The transept of this  school was erected, at his own expense, several  years ago by W. E Stanbridge, Esq, present Mayor of the Borough, for the accommodation of  the girls.  This portion of the edifice, like the  other, was a solid brick structure, very well adapted to the purpose, and cost several   hundred pounds. The transept that escaped the   gale of 1867, is now a mass of ruins, while the western half of the building which then fell is now spared. The wind on the former occasion came from the south west, and had it blown from the same quarter this time, it is impossible to say  whether the effects of the schoolhouse would not  have been precisely the same as before. But we have yet the worst calamity to relate, and that is that Christ Church— an edifice which altogether  has cost between £4000 and £5000 — has been seriously damaged. When the hailstorm commenced, the contractor (Mr Clayfield), with  three other men engaged in finishing the porch at  the north western corner, retired into it to escape  the fury of the storm. The outer door unfortunately not being closed the wind rushed into the porch with irresistible force, flung them against the inner door and then on to the church floor. Immediately afterwards they were   astonished to see the eastern portion of    the roof burst out from the inside, and then stick   down again with a tremendous report. At the  same time the lead ridging, that lately laid in  cement, was torn up from end to end. Such is   the injury done to the church that practical men informed us that the whole eastern side of the  roof must be removed and replaced, at a  necessarily large outlay. We may add that an   immense tree in front of Christ Church, 5 or 6 feet   thick, was blown down at the same time, but happily fell in the opposite direction to the   pressure of the wind, or the front of the edifice   would have been completely crushed. There is  scarcely a house in the borough that has not  suffered to some extent by the great hailstorm of  1870, and we trust it will be many years before we shall be exposed to another one like it. Had not the children in the two demolished Common schools been dismissed half an hour before the   disaster, the town would have been plunged into mourning. We fear the damage to property will exceed £1500, the whole of the destruction being caused in a minute or two, by one tremendous   squall. The cost of repairing the roof of  the Church of England will probably amount to   £400 or £500, and the expense of re-erecting the portion of the schoolroom blown down to £200 or   £300 more. Besides this outlay, a new   schoolroom will have to be built in the Catholic   reserve. Mr Wright, chemist, estimates the injury  to his drugs by the falling of his storeroom, at   £150 or £200; and when to these sums we add  the cost of making good the damage done to   other stores and private houses, our estimate of   the total cost will not appear exaggerated. We   heard last night that some houses at Blanket Flat  were blown down.


This article was found on Trove, the online database from the National Library of Australia which contains archives of many historical newspapers and magazines from digitised microfiche.  You can read the original article here. Trove creates text versions of these stories using optical character recognition (OCR) technology but the recognition isn’t always accurate because of blurred characters in the original documents. This created challenges for the team but it was all good fun.