Ron Beattie (In 1957 a student at Leura Primary School aged 10, and resident of 4 Beattie Street Leura).
On “Black Monday” I was at school (Leura primary) as usual. We noticed the smoke in the air and the atmosphere was electric with over excited kids.
Our teachers (led by Mr Harcher the headmaster) summoned all of the children into the spare block of land west of the school and adjacent to the Highway and we were asked to go home as the fire was approaching the school. I collected Marilyn (my 6 year old sister) and we left the school via the railway bridge at that stage the fire (moving from the direction of Mt Hay Rd., had reached the school and it was well on fire –as we crossed the railway bridge the fire began to burn the steps on the Great Western Highway side.
Marilyn and I proceeded home however we were unable (or just plain scared) to take our normal route down (the “dirt Road” shortcut) now called Hartley Street. Instead we went via Grose Street, past Lamberts (the Hardware Store) and continued down, crossing Megalong and Craigend Streets (where a house two from the Corner of Grose and Craigend streets exploded into flames as we passed by) heading slowly towards Beattie Street and the safety (we assumed) of home. On reaching the top of Beattie Street Mum had relocated our family car (loaded with whatever it could hold and skippy my dog) to the top of Beattie Street. Dad was on the spare block adjacent to our home at 4 Beattie Street, with Johnny Kindred (*his mate) fighting the fire which has sped up the valley from the direction of Lyrebird’s Dell and Gordon Falls and was consuming all in its path (with the remarkable exception of a home in Spencer Street (across the valley) around the fenceline of which the owner had sprinkled holywater) with wet hessian bags.
My mother (now lives on the Sunshine Coast) has the newspapers from that day still secreted away in her most precious possessions!
Our house was not burnt.
Leura was devastated.