Solomon Joel

Solomon Joel

Solomon Barnato Joel (May 23, 1865May 22, 1931) was a South African financier and mining, brewing and railway magnate.


Known as "Solly", he was born into a Jewish family, being one of three sons of Joel Joel (a London tavernkeeper of the "King of Prussia"), and Kate Isaacs, who was a sister of Barnett Isaacs, later to be called Barney Barnato. Along with his brothers Jack and Woolf, he was taken under the wing of Barney Barnato and made a fortune from the "Barnato Diamond Mining Company". Within ten years he had become a millionaire, primarily by buying seemingly worked-out diamond mines in South Africa. On Barney Barnato's death in 1897, Solly became head of the family business, "Barnato Brothers". Despite having a keen interest in diamonds, he played a greater role in the gold industry. He established the "Van Ryn Deep" in 1902, the "Government Gold Mining Areas (Modderfontein)" 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.


Early in his business career he supported the Uitlanders against Paul Kruger's government, and was a prominent member of the Reform Committee. Having been found guilty of high treason for his part in the Jameson Raid, Joel never dabbled in politics again.


Solly married a beautiful young actress named Ellen "Nellie" Ridley. While highly successful in business, in his personal life familial relationships were not always cordial. His dislike of his daughter Doris' choice of spouse 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. His daughter Eileen became the first woman jockey to win an open race when she rode Hogier to victory in the Town Plate at Newmarket. His son Dudley Joel was elected the Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Dudley but was killed in action during World War II.

Solly Joel's interests were wide and varied and included many business concerns. He was also kept busy with his enlarged family’s diamond and gold mining interests, activities in brewing, the theatre (the Drury Lane Theatre in London) and railways (the City & South London Railway).

Thoroughbred horse racing

Solly Joel had success in thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. He owned Polymelus who sired Pommern, the 1915 English Triple Crown champion. He also established a stud at New Farm, which was re-named Home Stud Farm located near his own estate. The Joel Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse is named in his honor.

In 1903 Joel purchased the Maiden Erlegh Estate in Earley, near Reading, Berkshire. He was renowned for being a generous man who purchased the first motorised ambulance for the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Another illustration of his generosity, was exhibited when 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

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.

ee also

* Joel family
* Gustav Imroth

External links

Polymelus []


* Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
*"Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa" vol. 6 (Nasou, Cape Town 1972) ISBN 0 625 00322 5
*"Ace of diamonds,: The story of Solomon Barnato Joel as told to Lloyd Mayer" Stanhope Joel (Frederick Muller Ltd. London 1958) ASIN: B0007KCDIK

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