Country club bar destroyed by fire

The fire caused significant damage to the bar area.

A fire has called last rounds on the Simon’s Town Country Club’s bar.

It started at 5:45am on Thursday July 9, according to club manager Richard Felder, who said a Simon’s Bay Estate resident raised the alarm.

Despite swift action by fire and rescue services, the blaze had gutted the bar and destroyed stock, he said.

The club suspected an electrical fault was to blame, although that was unconfirmed, and damages would likely exceed R1 million, he said.

The bar had been closed because of Covid-19 regulations, but the fire had destroyed most of the liquor being sold for off-consumption, he said.

“Thankfully the premises were empty at the time, and there were no injuries of any sort.”

The golf course remained open, he said. Golf is one of the sports permitted under current Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

Two fire engines and 12 firefighters raced to contain the blaze after the call came in at 6am, according to Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse. There were no injuries, he said, but the fire had caused extensive damage to the bar storeroom, and there was smoke damage to the foyer.

According to former chairman of the Simon’s Town Historical Society, David Erickson, the Simon’s Town golf course is one of the oldest in South Africa and celebrated its centenary in 2016.

Topography and adjacent land availability restricted it to nine holes – the only course of that size on the Cape Peninsula, he said.

The history of the club also includes an Anglo-Boer War prisoner-of-war (PoW) camp, which was established at Bellevue, the site now occupied by the country club. The first prisoner arrived at Bellevue on February 28 1900.

Mr Erickson emphasises it was not a concentration camp, as concentration camps were intended to house civilians, usually included women, children and men who were not of commando age, i.e. under 16 or over 60. Men who had taken the oath of neutrality, however, were also sometimes in the camps.

According to Mr Erickson, the Simon’s Town PoW Camp was a transit facility for prisoners being shipped to St Helena, Bermuda, India and Ceylon, and, based on contemporary records and photographs,conditions were relatively benign – prisoners were allowed (under supervision) to go to the nearby beach for bathing and materials were made available for wood-carving and model-making, with the products being sold to raise money for tobacco.