Brave battle: Tallarook and local brigades fought hard to control the blaze that destroyed the Tallarook Mechanics Institute on Saturday night. Photo: Mathew Ridge

by Ian Blyth

THE Tallarook community is gutted following the fire at the weekend that destroyed the town’s Mechanics Institute and irreplaceable memorabilia that the hall contained.

Saturday night was a sad night for the Tallarook community that saw the hall that had stood for 127 years, burn out of control.

The Tallarook Fire Brigade was first on scene and were soon joined by brigades from neighbouring towns. Sadly, the mainly timber building was well alight and was unable to be saved.

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Police are not treating the fire as suspicious and authorities believe the blaze was caused by an electrical fault.

The farmers market went ahead on Sunday after it was moved to Railway Place. There are two community musical events scheduled for August and September that were to be held in the hall – the future of these will be determined when the organisers meet.

Mitchell Shire Mayor, Cr Rhonda Sanderson, rushed to the fire on Saturday night and later told the North Central Review the loss of the hall was heartbreaking for the community that has many fond memories of the building and the events it hosted.

“The hall’s historic value cannot be replaced, but the memories and community spirit remain strong for this significant local community gathering place,” Cr Sanderson said.

“Council would like to thank the fire brigades who worked so hard to try to save the building. I’d also like to thank the other services, businesses and individuals who assisted on the night and the committee of management, Farmers’ Market organisers, stall holders and patrons for their support of the alternative market location on Sunday.

“There was such a great show of community spirit to make the market happen. I have no doubt this spirit will continue to shine as we work with the community to explore options to replace the hall in the future and identify alternative arrangements for community events and functions in the meantime,” Cr Sanderson added.

Building inspections were well underway on Monday to determine whether the historic building will need demolishing and whether any heritage aspects of the building can be salvaged. Insurers were also on site.

The building is owned by Mitchell Shire Council and operated by a volunteer committee of management.

Council has already taken steps to work with the hall committee and the community to support alternative arrangements for activities at the hall in the short to medium term
A community meeting will be held at 6pm tonight (Tuesday, May 8) at the Tallarook Recreation Reserve Pavilion to provide a community update.

The Mechanics Institute Hall has been used by the community and community groups since it was built in 1891, including as a temporary school while repairs and renovations were being carried out on the Tallarook school.

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