History of The River Club
On the 16th August, Farm “1519” was purchased from the crown by Austen Joseph Giblin, an ex-serviceman who later retired from the Rhodesian Railways. Giblin laid out the original gardens including the Bougainvillea and Jacaranda, which lined the original driveway and is now the path accessing Edward, Rhodes and Livingstone chalets. He called the farm, Quiet Waters Farm and the residence Zambezi House.
William Arthur Clarence Stewart, whilst leasing the farm, murdered his wife Betty in what is now the dining room, on unfounded suspicions that she was having an affair with the Roman Catholic priest in town.
His daughter died of blackwater fever and is buried alongside her mother behind the site of what is now Tongabezi’s honeymoon suite. (One of the Stewart’s visitors those days was a young man called David Staples who later married Peter Jones’ mother Ruth. Ruth and David Staples became shareholders in The River Club Project in 1996.)
James ‘Jock’ Simpson bought the farm but was unable to complete the acquisition and was therefore forced to sell it.
The farm was purchased by Diane Marie Madeleine Marcus Stella de Nekludoff, a Belgian teacher working in Livingstone, who had a plan to build a tourist resort, “Quiet Waters”.
Peter Jones, along with his sister, mother and a brother officer from the British Army, William Garton-Jones, purchased part of the farm now called 1519a, Atuleo Amanzi.
Peter Jones was born in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, educated in Rhodesia and England and later at The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.
He was commission officer in the Corps of Royal Engineers and later in The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment).
After ten years in the Army he had a dream of opening a lodge of quality. He wanted it saturated in the rich history of the area, spanning the early years of the pioneers up to Livingstone’s heyday in the 1950/60s.
One day, whilst canoeing the Zambezi on the Zimbabwean side he looked across to the Zambian bank and fell in love with the site on which he wanted to build his lodge.
He then approached the owner only to find himself fourth in line of people trying to purchase the property. He sat down to tea with her on many occasions and told her of his dream.
After a gruelling couple of years Mrs. De Nekludoff retorted, “I like you, but I don’t think you have any money!” Peter raised the funds, entered into a partnership agreement with Wilderness Safaris and his dream was launched.
In May the original Zambezi House was pulled down and on 8th July work began on building the lodge and The River Club opened for business on 19th December that year.
Mrs Rose Tunney, granddaughter of Joseph Giblin visited the farm for the first time since the 1950’s.
Ian Simpson came back to see his father’s old farm.
Mr A Stewart came back to visit the old house where his parents lived before his step-mother was murdered (in what is now the dining room).
Mrs Jo Pruss, grand daughter of Betty Steward, got in touch with the lodge.