Chapter 3 - Solly Joel
Solomon “Solly” Barnato Joel
Solly, head of the family
Harry and Barney’s sister Catherine "Kate" Isaacs had married Joel Joel. He was the tavern keeper, at the time, of the King of Prussia Public House in Mile End Road, unfortunately it no longer exists.Their son Solomon “Solly” was born in 1865.They had two otyher sons, Woolf and Isaac (later Jack).
Solly, 14 years younger than Barney, helped run the King of Prussia with his father, Joel. Barney was often a visitor at the pub. They got on well and Barney often stayed the night there.
After Harry and Barney realised what they had found in South Africa they contacted their nephews and told them to come over and join them. They knew that they could trust their close family.
The rest is history.
On Barney Barnatos’s death in 1897, Solly became head of the family business, Barnato Brothers. Despite having a keen interest in diamonds, Solly played a greater role in the gold industry. He established the Van Ryn Deep in 1902, the Government Gold Mining Areas in 1910 and the New State Areas in 1918. He acquired control of Langlaagte Estate and Gold Mining Company and Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company from J.B. Robinson and became a director of the Diamond Syndicate.
Solly married a beautiful young actress named Ellen "Nellie" Ridley whom he divorced later. They had five children. Doris, Stanhope, Dudley, Eileen and Woolf. While highly successful in business, in his personal life familial relationships were not always cordial. His dislike of his daughter Doris' choice of husband continued until she divorced after four years, at which point he resumed normal relations. Solly also disapproved of one of his son's Stanhope's marriage for two years.
Solly entered politics but politics in South Africa was a dangerous business. Having been found guilty of high treason for his part in the Jameson Raid, he never dabbled in politics again.
Of the Randlords who became involved in racing, there were many whose wealth provided them an entree into the highest social circles of Edwardian England, and also supported their great success in British racing circles, and several established important studs in England that were influential well into the 20th Century.
Both Barney and Harry had run horses in England: Barney's horse, Worcester won the City and Suburban in 1896 the year before he died, and his brother Harry's horse, Sir Geoffrey won the Lincolnshire Handicap of 1900.
Solly loved horse racing and had already established an important horse stud farm in Earlegh.
In 1903 he had purchased the Maiden Erlegh Estate in Erlegh near Wokingham. There he established the famous race horse stud at New Farm, later re-named Home Stud Farm which was situated near Marefield, off Rushey Way.
Solly Joel had success in thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. He had a number of other good winners in horses such as Ascot Gold Cup winner Bachelor's Button, Doncaster Cup winner Long Set, and other top runners.
Solly purchased Polymelus as a horse in training and was sent to the Maiden Erlegh stud near Reading, where he became a highly influential sire. Polymelus became a five-time leading sire in Great Britain & Ireland and sired Solly’s 1915 English Triple Crown champion, Pommern.
The Joel Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse is named in his honour. He won the Irish Derby with Kopi in 1929. His racing stables, first at Sefton Lodge, and then Moulton Paddocks, turned out only one classic winner, in 1915, Pommern.
However he did win the Triple Crown: The 2000 Guineas, the substitute (wartime) Derby and St. Leger.
In 1916, the year after his Derby success, Solly Joel was offered £250,000 for Pommern.
That was £50,000 more than the previous world record price paid for a racehorse. He refused.
Solly Joel's Derby Winner - Pommern
The famous Jockey, Steve Donoghue rode Pommern to victory. Two years later he also rode Gay Crusader to his second Triple Crown.
No other jockey has achieved this in the two-hundred-year history of English horse racing.
Solly Joel was renowned for being a generous man and he purchased the first motorised ambulance for the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Another example of his generosity was exhibited when the Sol Joel Park, close to his estate, was given to the Corporation of Reading in 1927. The official opening was undertaken by the then Duke of York, who became King George VI and was again an extravagant event.
I remember my aunt telling me that our family once owned part of the London Underground railway! In fact it was Solly who owned the City and South London Railway which indeed did become part of the “The Tube”. It was essentially what is known today as the Northern Line.
He also owned the famous Drury Lane Theatre in London.
Solly Joel died in 1931 and immediately his estate and possessions were sold at auction. The Home Stud Farm was sold in 1932 but continued until the 1980s.
His son, Stanhope Joel continued the horse racing tradition and was a very successful horse race owner and breeder. He owned the 1967 champion in England, Busted. He was very friendly with the Queen Mother. When, in his turn, Stanhope died in 1983 he bequeathed the Queen Mother, in his will, the choice of any one of his racehorses. Royalty are not allowed to inherit personally but by a rare act of Parliament, the Queen Mother was finally allowed to choose her racehorse, just as Stanhope had wished.