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Flames at the Pink and White Terraces: the Cold Case of Edwin Bainbridge
  • Alfred Bunn
Alfred Bunn

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This research examines the historical record of the 1886 Tarawera eruption and the Pink and White Terraces, into the death of the only English tourist killed in the eruption, Mr. Edwin Bainbridge. While his immediate cause of death is accepted as accidental i.e. being crushed by a falling balcony: the proximate cause i.e. hydrogen sulfide poisoning from Whatapoho fumarole was misdiagnosed at the time, as alcohol intoxication. This proximate cause was concealed at the time in 1886, probably to ease his family distress in the UK and to protect the publican from criticism or liability. A Dying Declaration made fifty-one years later is analysed together with firsthand evidence from Bainbridge’s tourist guide, who also became ill. It is suggested the H2S inhalation later impeded Bainbridge’s ability to dodge the falling balcony, which the person beside him survived. Bainbridge’s teetotal belief was overlooked at the time. This research now corrects the historical record.