“I am hoping to again breathe life into The Star, which holds so many nostalgic memories for many people,”
AFTER being closed and falling into serious disrepair during the last year, one of Kimberley’s oldest and most popular bars, the Star of the West, is set to shine again, with a local businessman restoring the “grande dame” to her former glory.
During September 2017 the Star of the West, one of the oldest bars in the country, closed its doors after nearly 150 years of trading, amid rumours of bankruptcy.
The closure let to an outcry by historians and residents, who feared that the “local historic treasure” and popular tourist attraction might be lost forever.
However, a local businessman, Adre Els, yesterday confirmed that he had acquired the business and was already busy with renovations that would attempt to “restore the Star of the West to its former glory”.
Situated in North Circular Road, the Star of the West is believed to be one of the oldest operating bars in Kimberley and dates from the early 1870s, when it started operating in nothing more than a zinc shack, as “Diamond Lil’s Tavern”, and catered for the workers on the Kimberley Mine as a hotel, brothel and bar.
The bar counter and rich wooden fittings, still present inside the bar area today, were salvaged and brought to the city by sailors who survived the wreck of their ship, Star of the West, on the West Coast and was used to build the Star of the West as it still stands today.
Big names like Barney Barnato and Cecil John Rhodes are rumoured to have frequented the bar, known simply as “The Star” to patrons.
Els yesterday said that the bar counter was one of the antique features he would restore and preserve during renovations, which commenced last month, adding that patrons could expect a more “upmarket” look and feel with the addition of fixtures such as bronze doors, crystal chandeliers, rich, wooden furniture and leather Chesterfield couches, as well as the use of more natural light and a neutral colour palette.
“We will be using as much as possible of the original artwork and furnishings in order to retain the antique integrity of the building and capture the spirit of Kimberley’s forgotten era.
“It will not only serve as a pub but also a restaurant and cigar lounge and will also feature a dance floor,” Els said.
He adding that patrons would be expected to adhere to a “smart-casual” dress code when entering the building.
However, the outside area will have a more relaxed, “beach” look and feel, with sea sand covering the floor and patrons being able to enjoy sundowners under an “island-style” lapa, according to Els.
Live bands performing on Sundays are also on the cards.
The pub’s upstairs area, which is accessed by a beautiful wooden staircase, and where “Madam” Diamond Lil and her “ladies” used to “entertain” clients in bedrooms, now features an open plan area.
Els said that this area was most likely to become a VIP area after renovations to the dilapidated outside deck area and the addition of bathrooms, which will feature antique-style toilets.
Els said that acquiring the Star of the West was “a lifelong dream” and that he always had a soft spot for the pub.
He added that The Star holds immense potential in Kimberley, which has seriously limited entertainment options.
“I am hoping to again breathe life into The Star, which holds so many nostalgic memories for many people,” Els concluded.
The Star of the West is expected to again open its doors to patrons on October 1 this year.