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Springbok Rugby Player, Septimus Ledger

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 13 APRIL

UPDATED: 13/04/2018

13 April 1898, The Town Council approve the new Town Hall be built on Market Square.
13 April 1900, Tolls end in Kimberley after being gazetted.
13 April 1917, Springbok Septimus Ledger killed in action at Arras.

Pictured is Septimus Ledger, the Springbok rugby team of 1912 -1913 with Ledger circled, and the signatures of that victorious side including Ledgers.

DID YOU KNOW

Septimus (Sep) Heyns Ledger was one of that rare breed of Springbok rugby players that not only never lost a test that he played, but was also a member of a team that achieved the Grand Slam in defeating all five Northern Hemisphere nations, this in the South African tour of 1912 – 1913.

“Sep”, as he was commonly known, was born in Kimberley on Monday 29 April 1889, one of seven children to Fred Ledger and Elizabeth Friederike Ledger (nee Knobel). Fred came from Oxford, England originally and Elizabeth from Colesberg. The siblings of “Sep” were August, Bertie, Florence, John, Kathleen, and Samuel Ledger.

Educated at the Kimberley High School, he worked for De Beers Consolidated Mines after leaving school in their Head Office as a clerk.

But it is at rugby union that he is best known.

He played as a lock forward for the Pirates Rugby Football Club after leaving school, when the club’s home was the old Eclectic Cricket Club grounds (Hoffe Park) in the Public Gardens. With Pirates he won the Grand Challenge Shield in 1909, 1911 and 1914, and he was a member of the victorious Griqualand West side that won the 1911 Currie Cup. His brother John also played for Griqualand West in that famous Currie Cup victory.

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Signatures of victorious Rugby team

The success of that Griqualand West team of 1911 was expected, as in 1910 they had defeated the touring British Isles side twice in Kimberley – 8-0 and 9-3. Sep had played in both those representative matches.

Selected as a lock for the Springbok team to tour Great Britain and France in 1912/1913 Ledger played in four of the five tests, the Springboks in those games beating Scotland 16-0, Ireland 38-0, England 9-3, and France 38-5. He also played in 11 other matches while on tour, and according to reports on the tour, “Ledger was outstanding”.

In World War I, he joined the 2nd South African Infantry, and landed in France on 25 July 1916, joining his battalion on the 31st that same month.

He was soon promoted to Sergeant and saw much action, sadly being killed on Friday 13 April 1917 in the advance on the Rouex village railway station. His name is recorded on the Arras memorial.

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Springbok Rugby Team with Septimus circled.

One of the many Kimberley men to pay the supreme sacrifice in the Great War. May he RIP.

Note: Some sources state his date of death is 12 April 1917.

13 April 1898, The Town Council approve the new Town Hall be built on Market Square.
13 April 1900, Tolls end in Kimberley after being gazetted.
13 April 1917, Springbok Septimus Ledger killed in action at Arras.

DID YOU KNOW

Kimberley’s old Town Hall on Old Main Street had burnt down on 29 March 1898, destroying twenty years’ worth of records (or so it was stated). What started the fire was never discovered, but the blaze was noticed at 01h00 that morning by a policeman on the beat and the fire brigade turned out. Before the fire could be brought under control it had destroyed most of the offices, leaving only a few rooms belonging to the Town Clerk untouched. At the inquest held, it was believed that a burning cigarette had started the blaze as there had been a public concert in the Hall just prior to the fire. The fire had come not a moment too soon, it appeared, as the building badly needed some major repair work, and was too small.

It had been the Council’s third such offices, the first being a few ramshackle rooms, and the second the former Linton’s Stores. The council had moved into the Linton’s Stores building in March 1879 after a few alterations had been made but in 1882 they moved to a much better facility.

The Public Library and Institute Company had built a building to utilise as a library but they had gone into liquidation, and sold the building in 1882 to the Town Council for £6000. The council had moved into this new Hall once a few alterations had been made in order to make some offices. The “Diamond News” newspaper stated that this “new” Town Hall was an improvement on before, but must only be considered a temporary stay. The newspaper continued, stating that the Council needed a “…spacious, well-ventilated, and substantial Town Hall, looking out upon the Market Square, and constructed on good acoustic principles…[and] be of great general benefit as a hall for concerts, lectures and public addresses.”

After the fire of 1898, the Council moved temporarily into the old Stock Exchange building where at their meeting on 13 April 1898 they came to a decision to erect a building more worthy of Kimberley. Basically, to “…meet the growing requirements of the town, in a more suitable locality.”

This would fulfil the requirements of what the “Diamond News” had wished upon nearly 20 years earlier, an impressive building on the Market Square.

The foundation stone of the new Town Hall would be laid by Mayor Moses Cornwall on 16 November 1898 and would officially be opened on 20 September 1899 by Mayor RH Henderson.

Pictured is the old Town Hall destroyed by fire. The Presbyterian Church, still in existence, can be seen next door.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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