As the oldest sports club and former military hospital in Bloemfontein (not to mention the site of a horrific fire), the Ramblers Sports Club is definitely one of Bloemfontein’s finest haunted spots.

My first impression of the building as I parked in front was one of silence, perhaps even secrets. There’s just so much history connected to the building. I could just imagine what the surrounding area looked like back then. Luckily I found a nice photo. All the old black and white photos are from the Bloemfontein history book by Karel Schoeman, Portrait of Bloemfontein – 1860 to 1910.

 

Just a quick bit of interesting history: The main building was erected in 1896, but it was the newest addition, which was built in 1903, that was the site of the destructive fire later that year. This was at the time of the British annexure of Bloemfontein, when the British used The Ramblers Club as a makeshift hospital, dubbed the Longman Hospital. It housed roughly 180 patients. Here is a an actual photo of the troop walking through the street. Rambler’s Club is the building in the background.

Believe it or not, but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself was a doctor in the building. Doyle is on the right.


I couldn’t find any records on how the fire started or how many people died, but eye witnesses have reported seeing burnt phantoms walking around, especially that of an old man with burn marks across his face. Here is a photo of the 1903 fire.



I drove around the back and took a look at the sports fields. Here’s a photo of the British troops camping on the field. The club house is on the left.

Who’d believe that years later South Africa would be playing cricket against Australia on that very field. Here is a soccer match between Corinthians and O.R.C at the Rambler's in 1903.

After entering through the back, I made my way to the great hall in the next photo. This is part of the original section built in 1896.

As a teacher, I’ve been in my share of large halls, and I have to say, the vibe I got while walking through this one was quite uncomfortable. Just to think of all the people – who are now dead – who have walked and danced between those walls and across that floor. Including Doyle, who, if you haven’t read any yet, wrote the scariest ghost stories.

Now here’s something about me you might not have known. As a young boy I used to see people’s auras; normally in shades of white or black. This stopped when I was about ten years old. But that night as I looked up at the gallery, I saw an aura much brighter than the white wall it shone against, which made a lot of sense after I found out about the guy who hung himself right in the top right corner of the gallery in this photo.

I made my way around the back and up the stairs for a closer look of the gallery. The stairs were quite intimidating. A feeling of solitary washed over me, almost as if I would stop existing if I stayed there too long. It was right at the bottom where I felt my first presence for that night. I’m not 100%, but it could’ve been that of a man.



Once at the top, it was quite impressive to look down at the great hall, as well as at the intricate details of the ceiling.

Photographers have reported a lot of orbs in the doorway below, but, personally, I’m not a big fan of orbs, whether they really show the start of manifestations or not. It’s believed to be a father carrying his little boy on his back.

Here are a few more photos from upstairs. The only other vibe I felt up there came from the windows themselves. I could just imagine looking out of them a hundred years ago and seeing a whole different picture. But, strangely, it almost felt as if the windows were watching me.






I left the building and found myself staring at the sports field, imagining all those tents and typhoid-suffering patients being moved into the makeshift hospital. Behind me stood the building, just as it had for the last century.

Inside, my eye immediately caught sight of the eerie wooden steps. There are rumors and reports of a nurse who fell to her death on the stairs. Whether it was these stairs or the ones in a room to the left, I’m not certain. I did however catch a glimpse, or perhaps a reflection, of something or someone standing at the bottom of the stairs.



There have also been sightings of a man standing in the exact spot from where the next photo was taken.

This was where I felt the second presence for that evening. It was halfway up these wooden steps. Perhaps that was where the nurse ended her final shift.

From the top of the stairs it’s only a few feet to the balconies, where there have been a lot of sightings and sounds reported – especially that of children running around.




The most interesting part was the windows, where it’s said you can feel the emotions of those who perished in the fire. The most talked about emotions felt there have been of sadness, disbelief and loneliness.


The Rambler’s Club was definitely not the scariest place I’ve ever been to, but it was definitely the most historically enriching. I’d love to spend the night there. Alone.

All the best.

Click here to read more of my blogs on the Rambler's Sports Club.