Tricia Kelly, nee Millar

I was 6 years old, in year 1 at Leura Primary. We were playing in the playground, the bell rang early. We had to go home. We walked across the wooden railway bridge then looked back. There were flames where the school was.

Our home was in Grose St. Friends came and hosed the housed down. Mum was in Katoomba and couldn’t get back. Every year, mum gave me a new dress for Christmas. I knew where she was hiding it. I grabbed my new Christmas dress that mum had in the cupboard and we went to the Mall and Jersey Ave. We went to the Wells house on the corner where we were safe. All I could think was that I had saved my dress.

That evening, my parents went walking the streets to see if people needed help or a place to stay. The Nivens from the Ritz helped a lot of people. After a couple of days, we went back to school in a hall. Mr Hartcher the Principal got burnt going back into the school to save things.

We lived in the house that now is Greens Guest House. The Nun’s residential burnt. There was a ramshackle house next door belonging to an eccentric old lady. The roof was patched with old flattened kero tins. Her house burnt.

The Chateau Napier owners’ daughter was my best friend and my sister used to work there. And the Presbyterian Church burnt down. Mum and other ladies worked very hard to get it back up and running afterwards.