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The History of The Balmoral


balmoral bahamas blogHistory: Balmoral Club

The Balmoral Club sitting graciously on the high point of Prospect Ridge and nestled in the midst of 43 acres of land, forms its own oasis.

Past Owners

The English Family: Sir Oliver Simmonds

This mansion has been home to two fascinating families, one English and one Canadian. In 1948 Sir Oliver Simmonds became the first owner, designer and builder of the original ‘High Tor’ mansion and in 1963 Joseph and Elodie Tomlinson purchased the estate for their large family and retinue of staff.

Balmoral ClubThe former ‘High Tor’ with its 18 foot gracious high ceiling rooms was designed with care and with an eye to detail still apparent to this day. Sir Oliver imported English oak panels for doors and an 18th century carved wooden fireplace as well as many other decorative items. He was an inventor and engineer, there are still features existing today that were considered innovative when he designed them such as the floating spiral staircase and the enormous windows that slide down to disappear completely into the floor.

Sir Oliver Simmonds, an Englishman, noted for his professional and business achievements in his own country, came to The Bahamas in 1948 making an impact with his business ventures and his involvement with social issues.

He was a qualified Engineer, an Inventor and a Social Reformer. In England in 1929, he was famously known as the founder of Simmonds Aircraft Ltd., producing a revolutionary bi-plane known as the Simmonds Spartan. He was also a co-designer of the Supermarine Aircraft and a mechanical part for the Spitfire, the famous fighter plane that defended England in World War II.

As the company grew it expanded its interests to producing aircraft controls and a fuel measurement tool that became a standard in the industry. Under his auspices the company grew rapidly spreading across all of Europe as a multi-national and then worldwide into Canada, the US and Australia.

In 1931 Sir Oliver Simmonds decided to pursue his other interests and entered the British Houses of Parliament as a Unionist and, much later in 1945, gained a seat in the House as a Tory. That experience was a relatively brief one and in 1948 he closed out his British interests and moved to The Bahamas.

He immediately became involved in starting a construction company most recognized for the development of The Balmoral, a hotel on Cable Beach now known as the Sandals resort. In its heyday, the hotel was known for its relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere and hosted many a notable guest, amongst which were The Beatles who were here to film the movie “Help!”.

Sir Oliver Simmonds also lent his energies to helping stabilize the hotel industry by becoming the President of The Hotel Employer Association and then the President of The Friends of The Bahamas, an organization encouraging the recognition of Bahamian creative talent in the hotel and music industries.

He lived in ‘High Tor’ until 1963 and he continued to live in Lyford Cay until 1977.

club living room daytimeThe Canadian Family: Joseph and Elodie Tomlinson

Joseph and Elodie Tomlinson, Canadians who had been living in Fort Lauderdale, purchased ‘High Tor’ in 1963. Joseph Tomlinson was a successful and influential industrialist who had wide-ranging business interests in shipping, a shareholding interest in MGM Studios and as a racehorse owner, racing in Canada and the US.

The Tomlinson family had a strong sense of community sharing some of their good fortune locally by donating fruit from their orchards as gift baskets, one of their many community involvements.

In 2008 the ‘High Tor‘ property was sold to its present owners who are implementing their own grand plan for the property now known as The Balmoral, an exclusive gated, residential community with the Balmoral Club as its focal point.

Above the beautiful bronze entrance of the Balmoral Club the original crest and Latin inscription are emblazoned: ‘Nonnisi Summa Placent’ meaning ‘Not unless the sum is pleasing’. There is no doubt that the new owners have taken Sir Oliver Simmonds’ motto as their charge to develop a community and club that tastefully reflects its origins. The newly-named Balmoral Club sitting graciously on the high point of Prospect Ridge and nestled in the midst of 43 acres of land, forms its own oasis.

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