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14-February-2016
14-February-2016
Photographs supplied by John Huth
A plaque commemorates the 15 people who were murdered in the Whiskey Au Go Go fire of 1973. The circular plaque, ringed with the names of the 15 dead, sits outside the Amelia Street doorway in Fortitude Valley.

The Whiskey Au Go Go fire was a fire that occurred at 2.10 am on Thursday 8 March 1973, in the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub in Fortitude Valley Brisbane, Australia that killed 15 people. The building was firebombed, resulting in the deaths of 15 patrons and staff.

The fire began with the ignition of two 23-litre drums of diesel fuel in the building's foyer. The drums were thrown into the foyer, then ignited by a lit torch thrown through the open door. When ignited the burning diesel sent carbon monoxide up to the club's main room on the first floor. Large quantities of grease had been smeared over the stairs of the building's rear fire escape. The door of the fire escape had also been greased. The fifteen people killed had died of asphyxiation as they struggled to open the greased fire escape doors. Police believed that had they been able to open the doors they would have slipped and fallen down the steel stairs.

About 100 patrons, bar staff and entertainers had been in the club at the time of ignition. Many escaped by jumping from broken windows onto an awning and dropping 15 feet to the ground.

Two underworld thugs, John Andrew Stuart, then 33, and James Richard Finch, 29, were found guilty of fire bombing the nightclub, on the corner of Amelia Street and St Paul's Terrace. During their trial Finch and Stuart loudly protested their innocence, claiming they had been "verballed": convicted based on false confessions. They both pleaded not guilty. On 23 October 1973 both were convicted of the murder of Jennifer Denise Davie, a drinks waitress at the club.  The jury found that the fire was lit as part of an extortion-terror campaign aimed at Brisbane nightclub operators, and they were sentenced to life in prison. Stuart was found dead in his cell of Boggo Road Gaol after a six-day hunger strike in 1979. Finch won his battle for release in 1988, after almost 15 years in prison. As part of his parole conditions he was deported back to his birth country, England.

Location

Address:Amelia Street & St Pauls Terrace , Fortitude valley , 4006
State:QLD
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -27.455297
Long: 153.032023
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Crime
Actual Event STart Date:08-March-1973
Actual Event End Date:08-March-1973

Dedication

Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 8th March, 2014
Front Inscription

[ Names ]

Site of the Whiskey Au Go Go

At 2.10am on March 8, 1973,  the Whiskey Au Go Go was fire bombed.   The popular first-floor nightclub was located on the corner of Amelia Street and St Pauls Terrace.

Fifteen people were unable to escape the fire and lost their lives.

Dedicated to a better Brisbane

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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