you are currently viewing: Events: Blue Plaque to Frank Bourne


Blue Plaque to Frank Edward Bourne

At 11am, on the 7th April, 2001 a Blue Plaque was erected at 16 Kings Hall Road, Beckenham to commemorate the time that Frank Edward Bourne resided at the address. The ceremony was presided over by The Mayor, Councillor David Crowe and the plaque was unveiled by HRH Prince Velekhaya Shange and Mr Douglas Bourne (both decendents of those involved in the encounter at Rorke's Drift)

Among the guests were Councillors from The London Borough of Bromley, Jacqui Lait MP, Col Barker (Military Attaché - South African High Commission), Colonel Robin Godwin-Austen (Commanded the 1st Batallion, The Royal Regiment of Wales. His great uncle was killed at the battle of Isandhlwana), a number of ex-24th Regiment, South Wales Borderers soldiers, John Young, and members of the Die Hard's re-enactment group.

For a full list of those who attended, contact us.

Members of the Die Hards and ex-24th Regiment, South Wales Borders.

In his speech, The Mayor spoke of how Frank Bourne was a man of his time, who held dearly to Queen and Country. He also spoke of how the attributes of honour, loyalty, bravery, dedication and self-sacrifice were part of Frank Bourne's nature.

Frank Bourne was born in Balcombe Sussex, 1855. He enlisted into the army on 18th December 1872. Within three years he had made the rank of Corporal and three years later was promoted to Colour Sergeant. After the Battle of Rorke's Drift, Frank Bourne was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, along with an offer of an immediate commission, which he declined.

Frank Bourne went on to serve in India and Burma. He was commissioned as a Quartermaster in 1890. In 1893 he was promoted to Adjutant of the School of Musketry at Hythe. He retired from the army in 1907. During the First World War, at the age of 60, he rejoined the forces to become Ajutant of the School of Musketry in Dublin.

At the end of the First World War, he was given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and appointed OBE.

Frank Bourne died on V.E Day, 8th May 1945 at the age of 90.

The Mayor, Douglas Bourne, HRH Prince Shange, The Mayoress and Councillor Hawthorne.

He is buried with his wife Eliza in the Elmers End Cemetery. Frank was the last defender of Rorke's Drift to die. Frank and his wife made their home in Beckenham from 1909 to 1931, with his longest period being at 16 Kings Hall Road. Shortly after the death of Eliza, he moved to live with his daughter in Dorking.

Mr and Mrs Martin Clark, with their family - the present owners.

Councillor Bill Hawthorne, the Chairman of the Environmental Sub-Committee, explained that the council normally erects one or two plaques each year. When the shortlist of 16 names arrived before the committee, he explained that there was a unanimous agreement that Frank Edward Bourne should be the first choice for 2001.

Blue Plaques have been erected in Bromley to such people as W.G Grace, H.G Wells, Enid Blyton and Walter de la Mare, to name but a few.

After the unveiling ceremony, there was a reception at the Civic Centre in Bromley, where food and wine was served. The film 'Zulu' was also shown in one of the reception rooms.

It was a good opportunity to meet people such as Douglas Bourne, who are a link back to this historic event, and HRH Prince Velekhaya Shange, who is a direct descendent of Prince Dabulamanzi.

It is fitting that The London Borough of Bromley have recognised a man who was outstanding in his profession and made an indelible mark in history.

The London Borough of Bromley
Bromley Blue Plaque Website

Other photos from the event

The Blue Plaque

HRH Prince Shange and Alan Critchley

Douglas Bourne and HRH Prince Shange

HRH Prince Shange inspecting the Die Hards

Presentation of a Plaque from Colonel Ian Hywel-Jones to The Mayor

The reception at the Civic Centre