To savour the elegance of the diamond magnates and businessmen of old Kimberley, a visit to one or both of the two historic homes – Dunluce and Rudd House – is a must. Both are part of the McGregor Museum Complex and are situated in Belgravia, one of Kimberley’s earliest residential suburbs.
Dunluce, or Lillianvale as it was first known, was designed by DW Greatbach for Gustav Bonas, a diamond buyer, in 1897. In 1903 John Orr, the founder of the firm of the same name, bought the house, complete with its furniture and fittings, for the sum of 6 400, and gave it its present name. He lived there until his death, after which his elder daughter and her family moved in until 1975. In that year Dunluce was purchased by Barlow Rand. The company restored the house and donated it to the McGregor Museum, but retained its use until 1985 as accommodation for Barlow Rand managers.
Recent restoration work has been undertaken with funds from the National Monuments Council. The gardens, maintained by Charlie Dzene for more than fifty years, have in recent times provided the venue for numerous wedding receptions and garden parties. Dunluce maintains its image as a family home.
History of Dunluce:
John Orr had established a drapery store in 1885 in Jones Street, Kimberley. In 1892 he married Mary Ellen Harper and subsequently had five children with her. He served as mayor of Kimberley from 1909 to 1910 and again from 1916 to 1918. In 1910 he issued Kimberley souvenir cups to celebrate the formation of the Union of South Africa. He was a member of the first Management Board of the Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum, and was founder of the Kimberley Horticultural Society. His business was so successful that he was able to open branches in Durban, Johannesburg, Benoni, Lourenco Marques and Springs. In 1918 he was awarded and MBE.
John Orr died in 1932 in Dublin whilst on holiday with Mrs. Orr and Mollie, his younger daughter. His other daughter, Eileen Orr, married Lionel Cooper, the pharmacist, and they and their family lived with her mother at Dunluce after her father died, and she remained there until her death in 1973.
The portraits in the drawing room are of Eileen’s daughters, Rosemary (b 1928, d 1990) and June (b 1934), and June’s sons, Craig and Glenn.
The appeal of Dunlcuce is greatly enhanced by the fact that it retains the fittings and furnishings left by the Orr family – some originating from the days when the Bonas family occupied the house, while others reflect the changing tastes of a leading Kimberley family over a period of seventy years.
The red dining room is of particular interest because it suffered a direct hit by a Long Tom shell during the siege of Kimberley, and was severely damaged. The original bathroom with its shower-cum-bath and brass towel rails fascinates visitors. In the garden, the swimming pool is reputed to have been the first private pool in Kimberley.