Historic Pub Tour – KIMBERLEY

During the Diamond Digging days, Kimberley was renowned for the variety and number of its bars. It is said that during the peak of the diamond rush Kimberley had more pubs than pharmacies and churches.This was partly due to a shortage of natural surface water, but mostly, one would suspect, to a diggers taste for beer or something stronger! Social life in Kimberley was as hectic as the frantic search for diamonds and many a digger celebrated a large find or drowned his diamond digging sorrows in these pubs. Today a few of these romantic establishments from a bygone age still exist and they flourish alongside newer more modern bars and restaurants. This tour revisits some of these old establishments still standing today.

Phoenix Hotel, Beaconsfield

You can try out the bar at the Phoenix Hotel, situated in Beaconsfield, which is virtually unchanged since 1885. All the bars serve good honest pub grub at reasonable prices and the locals are always game for a good chat and shared gossip.

Halfway House, Dutoitspan Road, Belgravia

Another unique and historic pub is the Halfway House in Dutoitspan Road. It also started off as a hotel and derived its name from being on the main thoroughfare between the then separate boroughs of Kimberley and Beaconsfield. In 1897 the ‘Half’, as it was referred to, was moved to its present site because Cecil John Rhodes wanted to build a sanatorium on the original site just across the road. The ‘Half’ is steeped in tradition and is world-famous for being the original ‘park and drink’ bar. Legend at the ‘Half’ has it that the custom was started by Rhodes. It is said that rather than getting down from his horse, he was accustomed to taking his drink astride his mount. In 1880, the ‘Half’ was officially licenced to serve the passing trade in and on their vehicles.

Ex Servicemen’s Club (Old Kimberley Golf Club), Memorial Road

Kimberley Club, Dutoitspan Road

Founded in 1881 by Cecil John Rhodes and the top men in the diamond industry, a visitor once said “the place was stuffed with more millionaires to the square foot than any other place in the world”. Many historic decisions have been made at the Kimberley Club, affecting not only Kimberley, but Southern and Central Africa and the international diamond industry.

Savoy Hotel

The Savoy Hotel is one of Kimberley’s oldest and most enchanting hotels. the hotel opened for the first time on 1 September 1897. It has lived through the diamond heydays, was re-built in 1901, and soon proved to be the best hotel in the city.

Star of the West, North Circular Road

The Star of the West on the North Circular Road is regarded as the oldest operating bar in Kimberley and dates from the 1870s. Built on 5.4 metres of solid rock foundation, it started off as a hotel and after receiving its victualler’s licence in 1877, it catered for the workers on the Kimberley Mine. The original bar counter and shelving behind the bar is still in use today while rumour has it that Cecil John Rhodes and Barney Barnato also enjoyed a few drinks in the ‘Star’.

Australian Arms, Big Hole