Stories from the collection – Geology collection rescued from the ashes

In order to accommodate the influx of returning ex-military undertaking university studies, the Belshaw building was constructed in 1946. This building remained the principle site for sciences teaching and research at UNE until the fire in February 1958. Only weeks before first semester in 1958, the fire devastated the upper floors of the Belshaw destroying lab equipment, collections and research material from disciplines including Physics, Geology, Zoology, Botany and Chemistry.

While the Botany Herbarium was completely destroyed, the bulk store of Geology specimens on closer inspection was able to be salvaged from the basement. Gone though was all the maps and survey equipment that had helped document the acquisition of the collection during the last 20 years.

Institutions from around the world offered immediate assistance in replacing teaching resources and collections. This allowed the 1958 teaching year to commence on time as well as assist the university in rebuilding lost collections. A small carpark near Booth Block now marks the former site of this building.

– Written by William Oates, University of New England Archivist