30 September 2004
A fire virtually destroyed the historic Wanderers Cricket Club in Johannesburg, reducing to ash irreplaceable items like historic documents, photos, trophies and records. The fire, battled by seven fire crews, started in the kitchen but soon spread. SA Eagle, insurer of the clubhouse, approached the Johannesburg City Council after it paid R30 million to rebuild the club, claiming that the emergency staff were negligent, because a fire engine was only sent out forty minutes after the fire started. A report released a month after the Wanderers fire by emergency management services chief Audrey Gule to the council's public safety committee, admitted Johannesburg's response times lagged behind those of the rest of the province. The Club was originally established on the site of the current railway station in 1888 during the gold rush, hence the name Wanderers - migratory workers ("wanderers") in search of their fortunes. In 1947, the expansion of the railway station led to the relocation of the Wanderers Club and clubhouse to Kent Park (now Illovo) - the same site where it stands to this day. Click here to read about the history of Black Johannesburg.