Cricket at Matjiesfontein

James Logan, the Laird of Matjiesfontein, was a cricket enthusiast and we stopped in Matjiesfontein because of this, and in particular because of the book, Empire, War, and Cricket in South Africa by Dean Allen.

Logan was born on the English/Scottish border in 1857 and started work young, joining  his father in the North British Railway Company. He became frustrated by the lack of opportunity and took passage for Australia. However, the ship was damaged rounding Cape Town and had to dock for repairs. Again he became impatient, left the ship, and joined the Cape Province Railway Service as a porter in 1877 (aged 20 years). He was rapidly promoted, saw a business opportunity, and in 1883, aged 26 years, left the Railway Service, bought land at Matjiesfontein, and set about creating a Victorian village, and several businesses.

The plans included a full-size cricket pitch – cricket in Victorian times was more than a game; it was seen as an important part of life, and a way of promoting values. Logan became one of those colonial agents who promoted and financed the development of cricket in Australia, India, and South Africa.

The derelict cricket pitch at Matjiesfontein

The derelict cricket pitch at Matjiesfontein The derelict cricket pitch at Matjiesfontein

Edward Alfred Lohman met Logan in 1893 when he was wintering in South Africa. He had contracted TB and apparently it was common for sportsmen to recuperate in the dry heat of South Africa’s interior. Lohman was apparently one of the most talented cricketers of all time, and Logan invited him to lived in Matjiesfontein, an offer which he accepted. Having secured such a famous sportsman Logan then approached Martin Bladen, the 7th Lord Hawke, who promoted tours of the English Cricket Team abroad. Logan secured the first Test Match between England and South Africa in 1895-96 in Cape Town; afterwards the team visited Matjiesfontein. A second tour took place in 1898-99, on the eve of the Anglo-Boer War, and in the station museum is the photograph below. In 1901, during the War, Logan sponsored a tour of the South African Cricket Team, managed by Lohman, to the UK.

Lord Hawke (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Martin_Hawke,_7th_Baron_Hawke)
Lord Hawke (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Martin_Hawke,_7th_Baron_Hawke)

17-1-31-cricket-at-matjiesfontein-lr-4446

Lohman died in 1901 and is buried near Logan in the Matjiesfontein graveyard. 

George Alfred Lohman (1865-1901) https://www.wikiwand.com/en/George_Lohmann
George Alfred Lohman (1865-1901) https://www.wikiwand.com/en/George_Lohmann
Matjiesfontein Graveyard
Matjiesfontein Graveyard

Lohman's grave in the Matjiesfontein Graveyard

James Logan's grave in the Matjiesfontein Graveyard

Further information
Cricket’s Laird: James Logan & the development of the ‘Imperial game’ in South Africa – excellent article
Logan & Matjiesfontein
George Alfred Lohman
‘Empire, War & Cricket’ – a review of the book

Lord Hawke’s Tour
Travelling backroads in the Karoo

 

2 comments

  1. Thank you! I have another post to come on Matjiesfontein itself, and possibly a second, and two more in the area – you must be wondering if I will ever leave. We were there for two nights, arriving one afternoon, spent one whole day, and left the following morning. Amazing what is there if you just look.

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  2. Just love reading your very interesting and informative posts of your visit and of our beautiful country, South Africa! History having been my favourite school subject, I so enjoy the historical perspective you include in your narrative. Thanks so much, Candy!

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