Be bowled over by the story of James Logan

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The life and times of a Reston man who made his fortune in South Africa through business, politics and cricket will be a hot topic in Ayton on Wednesday, April 2.

Born in 1857, James D Logan left his homeland for South Africa at the age of 19 and effectively blagged his way into a position of considerable influence in Cape Colony.

Prior to journeying over to the other side of the world, Logan worked with his father on the railways, with a post as ticket clerk at Reston station.

He only had £5 in his pocket when he arrived in South Africa but it was transport which put him on the path to riches, firstly getting a job at as a station porter.

From there, he was appointed as Station Manager of the new Cape Town station and then promoted to District Superintendent.

Suffering from health problems himself, Logan decided to branch out into leisure and developed a spa resort in the mountainous settlement of Matjiesfontein.

He also developed a keen passion for cricket and was responsible for the early growth of the sport in his new homeland.

During the Boer War he brought his own team over to Britain to play a number of matches, becoming friendly with the likes of WG Grace in the process.

He often returned to home turf and it was a visit to historic Gunsgreen House which proved to the catalyst for the talk in his honour in Ayton Community Hall in a few week’s time.

Honorary curator of Gunsgreen, Derek Janes was researching archives when he came across a story on a banquet thrown for Logan in 1892.

“I thought who the devil is this man and why was a banquet thrown in his honour?” Derek explained.

“I did some digging and that’s when his story came to light.

“He’s one of many people who were very famous in their lifetime but have been rather forgotten about with every passing year.

“His is a fascinating story though; it’s really quite ridiculous.”

One person who Logan has caught the attention of is South African lecturer and biographer Dr Dean Allen, who is arriving in Berwickshire to give the lecture on April 2.

Coincidentally, he got in touch with Derek about giving the talk weeks after Derek’s discovery.