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UPDATE: 09/11/2021

9 NOVEMBER 1901, Savoy Hotel on Boshof Road destroyed in a fire.

Savoy Hotel destroyed in a fire

It was shortly after 9pm on Saturday 9 November 1901 that the Savoy Hotel on Boshof Road was totally destroyed by fire, this including most of the furniture and the resident’s belongings.

Savoy Hotel on Old De Beers Road, circa 1950

Savoy Hotel on Old De Beers Road, circa 1950

The fire originated on the upper floor in one of the communal bathrooms. The accountant of the hotel, Mr March, stated that a waiter had called him to advise that smoke was pouring out of the panelling of the upstairs bathroom. When the panelling was kicked in, the flames rapidly spread. All hotel residents, many watching a fireworks display in the public gardens adjacent from the upper balcony, escaped safely.

For a short time, the people in the public gardens watching the fireworks display believed that the burning hotel was part of the show!

Lt Doyle of the Fire Brigade received the call at 21h15 but by the time they arrived the hotel was too far gone and burned for several hours before the brigade put out the fire.

Complaints were laid about the fire hydrants used being totally inadequate.

A double-storeyed brick building with upper and lower verandahs, the Savoy hotel boasted nearly 40 rooms, all of which were occupied at the time by 70 visitors. The majority of the visitors on the top floor lost all their belongings.

 Savoy Hotel on Old De Beers Road, circa 2012

Savoy Hotel on Old De Beers Road, circa 2012

The hotel had been opened in September 1892 by Mrs Clacey at the time of the Kimberley International Exhibition, but in 1901 was owned by a Mrs Foster, resident in England, and the license holder, William Tiffin, who had been in charge since March 1901.

All that remained of the main building was bare walls, a mere section of verandah on the ground floor remaining. Some furniture from the ground floor, including the billiard table, was rescued.

A “new” Savoy Hotel would be built and opened in 1904, but on Old De Beers Road.

9 NOVEMBER 1901, The Savoy Hotel on Boshof Road destroyed in a fire.

Savoy Hotel on Old De Beers Road, circa 1904

Savoy Hotel on Old De Beers Road, circa 1904


One of Kimberley’s oldest hotels, the Savoy Hotel was first opened on 1 September 1892 on the old Boshof Road. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1901, and its successor built and opened in 1904 on Old De Beers Road where it is now situated. The hotel was designed by D.W. Greatbatch. In 1921 the hotel was upgraded, and in 2000, husband and wife team

Ethne (former Girls’ High principal and politician), and Wes Papenfus (Agri-businessman), bought it from long-time owner Nathan Cohen, and further improvements were completed. Adjacent to the hotel is the Savoy Hotel bottle store, South Africa’s first ever self-service bottle store.

The Jazz Bar (formerly the Settlers Pub) was one of Kimberley’s landmark saloons for many decades when it was known as the Tom and Cecil bar – named after the Long Tom and Long Cecil guns used in and around Kimberley during the siege of 1899-1900.


Pictured is the Savoy Hotel on Old De Beers Road, circa 1904, 1950 and 2012.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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