The History of the Enfield & Fidler Cottages
Chapter 1

For those interested in the history of Henley on Klip, knowing the origins of (specifically) the original cottages and homes built in the Village are of great educational value. The information is meticulously researched and compiled in a very reader-friendly format by Richard Kent, Great-Great Grandson of Adv. Horatio 'Horace Couch Kent, the founder of Henley on Klip in the early 1900's.

Why the research surrounding the Fidler family? Well, they built one of the very first cottages in Henley on Klip, currently (temporary) home to the Henley Museum and their story, we feel, is broadly speaking and in most probability, reminiscent of numerous other original buildings that remained intact today.

Copyright Richard Kent 2022. Used with permission.

Richard Kent (Birmingham, England)

The Story of the Fidlers
Chapter 2

A Fidler's Tale The story of the Fidler family can be a bit confusing, as three successive generations had a pair of brothers called Joseph and William (Joe and Bill). So to distinguish them, I'm going to call them Old Joe, Young Joe, and Kid Joe (and the same with the Bills).
• Old Joe (1861-1953) is the one who built Enfield and Fidler cottage, and together with his wife Hannah were known as Mom and Dad Fidler • Young Joe (1893-1931) was Joseph Labourne Fidler, who I have referred to in previous emails as JLF • Kid Joe (1918-2016) is Joseph Frederick Fidler, the author of the chapter on the Fidler family in Koos van Eck's book, 'A River Runs Through. The Story of Henley on Klip'

The Story of the Fidlers
Chapter 3
The lives of the Fidler Family

So here's a brief summary of the lives of the three Joes (plus some of the Bills), meshing together the account in van Eck's book with my other online research, including data from Old Joe (Joseph Fidler) was born in 1861, the 8th child of 9 children, and grew up in Whitehaven, a port in Cumbria, near the Lake District, in north-west England. 1884 was a momentous year for Joe. In February, aged 23, he married Hannah Labourne, from the nearby village of Arlecdon. In June, his father (also called Joseph) died, and in October his first child Bertha was born. His elder brother, Old Bill's wife Elizabeth also gave birth to their first child, Janet. Clearly the death of their father caused a financial crisis in the family, because in the following year, 1885, the two brothers, Old Joe and Old Bill, took a boat to Sydney, Australia to seek their fortune, with their wives and first daughters in tow, on the passenger ship Chimborazo. The passenger list shows Bill's occupation as a diamond setter, and Joe is listed as a joiner/miner. Life in Australia (1885 - 1895/1902) They settled in Parramatta (20km west of Sydney) where several more children were born to both families, including Young Joe and Young Bill (to Old Joe and Hannah). Move to Johannesburg (1895-1902) At some stage between 1895 and 1902, the two families moved from Australia to Joburg, to seek their fortune in the mines there. Quite when this happened is unclear, and they probably didn't move all at once. In van Eck's book, Kid Joe says that they moved in 1895, and Old Joe & Old Bill "participated in the Jameson Raid", which was at the end of 1895. Yet Ancestry records show a child of Old Bill being born in Australia in 1899. And passenger lists show Old Joe's wife Hannah and children travelling from Sydney to Durban in 1902. This period also includes the Boer War of 1899-1902, so it may be that even if some or all family members moved to Joburg in 1895, that they went back to Australia in 1899 and didn't return until 1902. The Jameson Raid (29 Dec 1895 – 2 Jan 1896) It's curious that Kid Joe recalls (on page 201 of van Eck's book) that his grandfather Old Joe related that he and his brother Old Bill participated in the Jameson Raid. This is obviously a clear recollection, although quite what they meant by "participated in" is open to question, as well as being highly curious! The Jameson Raid was one of the most embarrassing and humiliating failures in British colonial history, so it's hard to imagine why anyone would want to claim they took part in it - most people seemed to want to deny that they had any involvement! The 500 or so members of Cecil Rhodes' private army, who actually took part in the raid, didn't get very far from their launch point in southern Rhodesia, and were either killed, or rounded up and deported for trial in London and disgrace. What Cecil Rhodes had apparently planned an uprising of all the non-Africaner 'Uitlanders' in Joburg, which Jameson's party would ride in to support, then they would seize the mines, and topple the South African Republic. But in the event, there was no such uprising. However, since Old Joe and Old Bill claim they participated, it may be that they were party to some of the plans for this "uprising" that never happened! It's still curious that they would want to proudly relate the story of their part in the epic disaster, but clearly they did. And that means that they must have both been in Joburg in 1895 (though maybe their wives and children weren't). And there must have been some "to-ing and fro-ing" between Australia and Joburg, until eventually both families were all in Joburg in 1902. Life in Joburg (1902 to 1914) Old Joe and Old Bill both worked for various mines, and lived in Florida, on the west side of Joburg, with their families. Old Joe was a carpenter by trade, but also seems to have been an adept builder. In van Eck's book, Kid Joe relates how Old Joe had renovated two of the old cottages in Florida, and built another cottage, for the three generations of family to live in.
First World War (1914-18) Old Joe's son, Young Joe fought in WW 1 firstly in the Witwatersrand Rifles in Namibia, then in the trenches in France. He was injured in 1916 in the Battle of Delville Wood (part of the Battle of the Somme), and was evacuated to a hospital in London, and then discharged from the army due to his injuries. Unable to return to South Africa, he stayed 2 more years in London, working as an electrician, living in Kilburn, where he married nurse Emma Floyd in 1916, and they had their first two children, May (1917) and Kid Joe (1918). They returned to Jo'burg in 1918, where Young Joe found work in the mines, and they had four more children, including Billy the Kid. Building Enfield Cottage (1918-1927) By 1918, Old Joe was 57, and must have made a little bit of money, and been thinking of a 'retirement plan'. So he bought a couple of plots in Henley on Klip, and started building Enfield Cottage in 1918, with his wife Hannah, only building at weekends, while living in a tent. It's not recorded anywhere how long it took them to finish, or when Old Joe 'retired' and he and Hannah started living there full time, but this was probably some time in the mid 1920s (Old Joe would have been 65 in 1926). 'The Depression' (1927-1931) Apparently by 1927, Young Joe was having trouble finding work as an electrician, so Kid Joe and Billy the Kid, aged 8 and 6 were sent to live with their grandparents (Old Joe and Hannah) in Henley on Klip, while the other three children stayed with their parents in Florida. Kid Joe says in van Eck's book that this was "due to the depression", which doesn't quite tie up. The Great Depression wasn't until autumn 1929. So either Kid Joe mistook the year (but he clearly states his and his brother's ages, which tie in to 1927), or maybe his father lost his job in 1927, and then later couldn't find much work in the following years due to the Great Depression, and Kid Joe lumped it all together as being due to "the depression". Building 'Fidler' Cottage (1927-1931) It was during this time that Old Joe & Hannah started building their second cottage at Henley on Klip. Interestingly, Kid Joe only ever refers to this as 'The Cottage' - presumably it was only referred to as the Fidler Cottage later. Kid Joe and Billy the Kid were co-opted to help build the cottage - Kid Joe relates some great stories (in van Eck's book) about having to haul rock from the quarry by donkey cart, and shape it with hammer and chisel to make blocks for the walls, and flattening out old carbide drums to make steel sheeting for the ceilings. It's not at all clear who the second cottage was intended for, or indeed who actually lived there. It may have been mostly for weekend visits from the burgeoning family in Joburg, especially Young Joe & Emma (+3 kids) coming out to visit their parents and their two sons, Kid Joe and Billy the Kid. It may have been Young Bill and family. But most likely it was for Grace (the younger sister of Young Joe and Young Bill) and her husband Reg Johnson, plus 1-year old daughter Peggy, who Kid Joe says came to live with them all in the Enfield Cottage in 1928. It must have been a tight squeeze with Mom and Dad, Kid Joe and Billy the Kid already living there. Death of Young Joe (1931) Sadly, the family's plans were struck by tragedy on Friday 31 July 1931, when Young Joe sadly died, aged only 38, in the Cons mine Hospital, Krugersdorp. Whether this was due to a mining accident or natural causes, I don't know. But the fact that he was buried in Henley in Klip shows that the family already had a strong affinity with Henley on Klip by then, even though Young Joe never actually lived there himself, other than for weekend trips. Young Joe's death left his widow, Emma, aged 33, with five children - her two eldest boys (Kid Joe and Billy the Kid, aged 13 and 11) who were still living with their grandparents, and her three other children: May, Ruth, and Bob living with her. Apparently she remarried a few years later, to Marthinus van As, and continued living in Florida until her death in 1970. The Last of the Fidlers in Henley (1931-1935) The unexpected death of Young Joe, and the continued economic depression seemed to have combined to de-rail the Fidler family's plans to all eventually settle in Henley on Klip. By early 1935 Old Joe and Hannah (aka Mom and Dad Fidler) had sold the Enfield Cottage, and moved back to Florida (in Joburg), to be near the rest of the family, and they lived there until their deaths in 1953 and 1947 respectively. Kid Joe mentions moving back to Florida, and that his grandparents "sold Enfield", but it's not clear whether the sale included both cottages, or whether Young Joe's sister Grace and her husband Reg Johnson continued living there. However, since this cottage became known as the Fidler Cottage, I assume that the Johnsons moved out at the same time as Mom and Dad Fidler - otherwise it would have become known as the Johnson Cottage! So, early in 1935, I assume all members of the family returned to Joburg, which brings to an end to the chapter of the Fidler family in Henley on Klip.

The Story of the Fidlers
Chapter 4
The mystery surrounding the name 'Enfield'

Except for a few curiosities... One curiosity of Kid Joe's account (in van Eck's book) is that he says (on page 203) that "the property and house later became known as Enfield". Tantalisingly, he doesn't clarify what he meant by "later", but it seems that Old Joe & Hannah didn't give it that name immediately. It may be that they only gave it a name after they built the second cottage, starting in 1928. Kid Joe, writing in 2004 refers to the two houses as "Enfield" and "The Cottage", and states that both houses were still standing in 2004. It's also interesting that the name Enfield was given to "the property and house". So the whole plot was called Enfield, with a principal house called Enfield, and another one (presumably smaller) called The Cottage.

On page 203, Kid Joe recounts that "after completing the cottage Enfield, my grandparents started to build another cottage on the property...", which again confirms that there was only one property, but with two cottages on it. As to who chose the name Enfield, or why they chose it, that still remains a mystery. Since Old Joe & Hannah (aka Mom and Dad Fidler) built, owned, and lived in the cottage, it seems most likely that they chose the name, though it might have been any other member of their family. If they felt nostalgic for the days of their youth in Cumbria, England, you'd expect them to choose the name of somewhere they had grown up in, like Whitehaven, Arlecdon or Frizington. Or if they recalled their time in Australia, then they could have chosen Parramatta or Granville, the town and district where they lived. Maybe there was some peer pressure, possibly from Horace Kent, or from other early settlers at Henley on Klip to choose an English-sounding name, from the environs of the River Thames corridor between London, Henley-on-Thames and Oxford, as was the case for so many of the road names, including Ewelme Road, where the Enfield Cottage stood (named after the village of a Ewelme, where Horace's daughter-in-law grew up). But Enfield isn't anywhere near the River Thames, so it seems an odd choice.

The Story of the Fidlers
Chapter 5
The name 'Enfield' - A bit of speculation and a lot of merit

The above leaves Richard with six guesses as to the origin of the name, though without a shred of evidence for any of them! 1. Enfield, a village near Sydney, Australia A small town, halfway between Sydney and Parramatta. As far as we know, Mom and Dad Fidler lived in Parramatta (15km from Enfield) from 1885 to at least 1895, and several of their children were born there, but it's possible that they moved to Enfield towards the end of this time. But it's a small, unremarkable place, with no river, now engulfed by Sydney, and it's hard to see why they would have chosen that name, some 30 years later 2. Enfield, originally a market town north of London, now a London Borough The only possible connection with this Enfield is that Young Joe and his wife Emma lived 18km away, in Kilburn for 2 years, during WWI, in 1916-1918. They were married in Kilburn, and their first two children were born in Kilburn, so I have nothing to connect them to Enfield. It's possible that they met in a hospital in Enfield, as Young Joe was an army invalid in a hospital somewhere in London, and Emma was a nurse. But it could have been any of hundreds of hospitals in London. It's doubtful if during the war, a young married couple with young children would have chosen to visit Enfield for any particular reason, e.g. for a day trip? I don't imagine that day tripping was encouraged in the war, and there were green spaces much closer at hand, such as Hampstead Heath, just next to Kilburn. So if Young Joe and Emma had been asked for a good English name, you'd imagine they'd pick Kilburn, or Hampstead, or something like Richmond, which is on the Thames, and much closer than Enfield. Enfield (London) does have a small river running past it - the River Lea. But in the early 20th century, it didn't have any reservoirs or facilities for boating, so it would be hard to say that Henley on Klip reminded Young Joe & Emma of Enfield, London, as there's really no resemblance at all, nor any proven connection to Enfield. And anyway, Young Joe & Emma never lived in Henley on Klip, so it's hard to see why Old Joe & Hannah would name their cottage for a town that one of their sons lived 18km away from, for 2 years, a decade before. It really doesn't sound very likely! 3. The Royal Enfield Cycle Royal Enfield made both bicycles and motorbikes from 1901, and exported them all round the world. It's entirely possible that Mom and Dad Fidler owned one or more Royal Enfield bicycles or motorbikes (Kid Joe mentions Billy the Kid and him cycling to school). But it's stretching the imagination to think that they would choose to name their cottage after a bike, as presumably quite a few other residents of Henley on Klip probably had similar bikes. Of course, it's possible that Old Joe set up a business on the property, repairing Enfield bikes and motorbikes, so it became known as the "Enfield Cottage", but there's not a shred of evidence for that - just another of my wild guesses! 4. The Lee-Enfield Rifle This was the standard issue rifle for the British army, throughout the world, from 1895 until 1957. I would imagine that most households in the Transvaal owned at least one at that time, especially in the aftermath of the Boer War. So I wouldn't be surprised if Old Joe and Young Joe each had one. But, as for the bikes, it seems a very odd choice to name a cottage after a rifle. Especially so since Young Joe had been badly wounded in WWI, and invalided out of the army. I doubt that he or his father would have particularly chosen the name of the rifle as the name of the cottage. But strange things do happen! 5. Did the later Owners Call it Enfield? Old Joe & Hannah apparently sold the property and both cottages in 1935. Kid Joe mentions that the cottage that was built first was "later called Enfield", while they just called the other one "the cottage". Might it be possible that the name "Enfield Cottage" was actually given to it after 1935, by the next owners? This seems unlikely, as Kid Joe refers to the name Enfield several times. But it may be that he used to continue to visit Henley on Klip in later life, and just used the later name to refer to the cottage, since everyone then called it the Enfield Cottage in later years. So it might be that the name "Enfield" wasn't chosen by any of the Fidlers, but by the next owners, after 1935. 6. Reg Johnson According to Kid Joe, in about 1928, his aunt Grace and her husband Reg Johnson (and their daughter) came to live in the first cottage in Henley-on-Klip. It might be that Reg Johnson came up with the name. Possibly he came from Enfield, London? I've not been able to find out any information about him at all. He may never have been near England, it's just another wild guess! So, I'm afraid that, despite a few tantalising possibilities, I've got not a shred of evidence Kid Joe's minor mistakes Kid Joe was 85 in 2004 when he wrote the account which has been preserved in van Eck's book. But as with other chapters in the book, not all the details agree with other verifiable sources of information. So either Kid Joe's memory was slightly confused, or van Eck made some transcription errors. The ones that I have found, with page numbers are: (p.201) states that Joseph and his brother William and their Sisters, Hannah and Elizabeth travelled to Australia by steamboat. Hannah and Elizabeth were actually their Wives not Sisters.
(p.201) he states that both brothers (Old Joe and Old Bill) participated in the Jameson Raid (in 1896). I think this must have been a tall story told by Old Joe to his grandkids, as their "participation" can only have been possibly being involved in a plot to rebel in the mines, which never happened. They certainly weren't part of the actual Jameson Raid from south Rhodesia, which never reached Joburg. But I think we can blame that aastory on Old Joe, not Kid Joe, who clearly believed it! (p.203) he mentions the depression starting in 1927, whereas this didn't start till 1929 (p.203) he mentions 'Carbine drums', when he surely means carbide drums, as is clear on the next page (this could be van Eck's transcription error, or a lapse by Kid Joe) (p.204) he mentions his father dying in 1930, whereas his gravestone clearly records his death in July 1931 The recent discovery of Horace Kent's Passport by his great-great grandson, Richard Kent, is the unearthing of an historical treasure unlike any other in the history of Henley-on-Klip. Why is Richard's find issued by the Union of South Africa so significant? We now know exactly when Horace Kent and his wife Elizabeth Hearn Braund were born, what they looked like, his uniquely 'crafted' handwriting and his signature. But moreover, it allows us a glimpse into the life of a man whom would have celebrated his 166th birthday this year and considered the founder of our Village.