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Bevil Gordon D'Urban Rudd

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 5 OCTOBER

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5 October 1895, Nazareth House Chapel opens for worship.
5 October 1894, Bevil Gordon D’Urban Rudd MC born.
5 October 1990, Inaugural Barney Barnato Golf Tournament.

DID YOU KNOW

Bevil Rudd, (pictured), the grandson of co-founder Charles Rudd of the De Beers Mining Company with Cecil Rhodes, and son of Percy Rudd, long time Director of De Beers Consolidated Mines, was a superb sportsman. He died relatively young at age 54 on Monday 2 February 1948.

Born in Kimberley on Friday 5 October 1894 to Percy and Mabel Rudd (nee Blyth), he attended Christian Brothers’ College for a time, and was quite a scholar, being first in class (Standard VI) in 1907 as well as winning six prizes for athletics in 1903. After leaving CBC he attended St Andrews College in Grahamstown, and was later awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. He played a leading part in revitalizing the Oxford University Athletics Club.

Bevil won three medals at the Antwerp Olympics in 1920: a gold medal in the 400 metres, a bronze medal in the 800 metres and a silver in the 4 x 400 metres relay event, a feat never to be equalled or bettered by any Kimberley citizen in the history of the city. He also won, in the same year, the British quarter and half-mile events, being awarded the Harvey memorial Gold Challenge Cup for the best athlete of the year in Great Britain.

In 1921 Bevil set the world record for the Quarter Mile.

He was a natural athlete and much preferred drinking and smoking to training. Often seen cheering on his colleagues and competitors who were toiling away, he would be relaxing in the shade with pipe in mouth and beer in hand. Sports historian Tim Harris described Rudd breaking the world record in 1921: “Rudd laid down his cigar trackside, broke the 400 yards world record, picked it up again and carried on puffing away.”

(Not a very well known fact is that he trained for athletics with his sister Dolores, and invariably, she won! His father Percy used to sit and get the two siblings to run past him while he threw tennis balls at them, making them run faster! It must have worked and perhaps should be introduced to some of today’s athletes.)

After University he became a Master at Harrow, and was then appointed private secretary to Lord Birkenhead before returning to Kimberley in 1924. After a short period in the town he became a sports writer for the Cape Times in Cape Town, but in 1930 returned to Great Britain as a journalist for the Daily Telegraph. World War II saw him in the position of editor for the publications “War” and “Current affairs”, and in September 1946 he returned to Kimberley with his wife Ursula (nee Knight). He had two sons, John and Robin. John celebrated his 75th birthday at Rudd House in Kimberley.

He was also on the Board of selectors for Rhodes Scholarships in the Cape Province upon his return to South Africa.

In case one thinks his war service was limited to World War II, Bevil was a hero in World War I (1914-1918), serving first with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders before joining the innovative Tank Corps of Winston Churchill, being awarded the Military Cross for bravery.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

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