THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BULAWAYO CLUB          - 27/7/2009      <--Prev : Next-->

The Bulawayo Club celebrated its 75th anniversary last month, with a gala event that was quite the talk of the town!!

The theme was 1920's and the Gatsby Girls came out in full force wearing their flapper outfits, feathers in the hair, and there was an obvious and pervading smell of moth balls as Grand Mother's fur coat was dragged out from the very back of the cupboard especially for the event!!

The Anti-Fur Society Ladies were not happy but as the champers began to flow and the moths had all flown away in the wind, a festive time was had by all.

The Bulawayo Club is an icon in Bulawayo. The old hitching post still retains pride of place outside the main entrance, where one's horse was hitched prior to a visit to what was originally a "Men Only" Club, which opened in 1895.

"For those who appreciate the splendour and grace of a bygone age, take time off to savour one of the great bastions of Zimbabwe's proud and diverse history,' reads the brochure.

"The Bulawayo Club was founded in 1895. Reveling in a unique tradition and now being lavishly renovated, let us take you back to a time less stressed and cynical. The classic intimacy of this remarkable establishment will ensure that you will return time and time again "

Ideally situated in the heart of Bulawayo, the City of Kings, we can offer fine dining at the Governors' Restaurant, offering a classic culinary experience combined with a refreshing twist of modern Africa; In The Lobengula Lounge you will sink back into the plush furnishings of a venue decorated with early sketches and paintings whilst sipping on appetizing cocktails"

The Bulawayo Club Building is a magnificent structure, an imposing colonial edifice, with a magnificent carpeted staircase sweeping from the Long Bar to the elegant dining room and ballroom, where ladies were actually allowed on high days and holidays!

In the good old bad old days, it was a very bigoted club with firm unfriendly rules, but today under the management of a dynamic young couple, Philip and Sharon Stead, it resounds with light and laughter and old-fashioned etiquette is quietly tucked away although the magnificence of days gone by still remains.

The club is a veritable museum with a fascinating library, wonderful artifacts, incredible furniture and valuable old paintings.

Some formidable and fearsome portraits of unmentionable people frown down upon one from various nooks and crannies, and original Thomas Baines oils of the Victoria Falls decorate the freshly painted walls.

Portraits of past Chairmen of the club dignify the many anterooms, which include the smoking room, the wine cellar, the card room, and the magnificent billiard room. An ornate shoe and boot cleaning chair occupies pride of place in the gents washroom, and one almost expects a little white gloved man to appear to dry ones hands and proffer hand cream in the bathroom, just like the Regent Hotel in Hong Kong!!

Names like Dr Hans Sauer the very first Chairman of the Club, Sir Philip Bouchier Wrey who was in the chair from 1901 - 1926 followed by
1927 - 1933 Sir James McDonald
1936 - 1938 Sir Henry Chapman
1939 - 1944 Sir George Johnson
1946 - 1947 Sir Henry Low CBE

One particularly interesting feature is the centuries old leather bound "gaming book" which is a real treasure, some bets written in beautiful copperplate hand writing, bearing the names of long gone members, in the days which gentlemen's bets were placed on all manner of strange unmentionable things that fascinate men!

The accommodation at the Club has been completely renovated. I well remember when I used to visit my good friend Sue Corke whose dad was the secretary of the club way back in the sixties. The secretary's flat was in the bowels of the Club but we were absolutely convinced that the Club was haunted and spent many a fun evening rattling chains to frighten the guests !!

A feather in the cap of the Amalinda Collection, the beautifully renovated Bulawayo Club hopefully paving the way to peace and prosperity in Zimbabwe.

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