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Historical society given photographs of 1930s ship fire on Front Street

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Two photographs of a fire on board a passenger ship in the 1930s have been donated to the Bermuda Historical Society.

The images of the fire on board the MV Bermuda in 1931 while berthed on Front Street, were given by Lieutenant-Colonel David Mathias, who lives in Britain.

“The photos were given to me by the family of a deceased Royal Navy veteran. I was asked to do whatever I felt was appropriate with them,” said Colonel Mathias.

“I very quickly realised the location as Bermuda and the ship as the SS Bermuda and realised their importance to the island. Hence I contacted the BHS.”

The fire on MV Bermuda

According to Wikipedia, the passenger ship Bermuda was commissioned in 1927, was more than 500ft and featured a cinema, gymnasium and pool, among other amenities.

A fire was discovered and extinguished on board on June 16, 1931, but two more were discovered the next day. The upper decks were consumed by the flames, which took four hours to contain and more than a day to fully extinguish. The ship’s barber died in the fire.

The ship was towed to Belfast, in Northern Ireland, after the fire. A second fire in November that year caused it to sink.

Bystanders look on as people try to extinguish the flames on the MV Bermuda in June 1931 (Photograph supplied)

BHS president Andrew Bermingham said the organisation received rare photographs such as the MV Bermuda fire “fairly frequently from people around the globe”.

“Objects like these photos often come from out of the blue and it is fun seeing what we get from people overseas,” he said.

Mr Bermingham said he found some of the detail in the photographs fascinating – especially for the time period when it was taken.

“There were no cars in Bermuda until 1946, yet in the photo, you can see some motor trucks and fire engines. It is a really interesting photograph.”

The society will hold its annual general meeting on November 15, where a silent auction will be held at its museum on Queen Street.

The meeting and silent auction will begin at 6pm and will be open to members of the public to bid on items of historical interest and significance. All the funds raised will go toward the society.

The Bermuda Historical Society Museum is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10.30am to 1pm.

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Published October 13, 2022 at 7:49 am (Updated October 13, 2022 at 7:38 am)

Historical society given photographs of 1930s ship fire on Front Street

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