Pietermaritzburg Gem and Mineral Club
There were a number of people interested in rocks and minerals in the 1980's, who attended the Natal Mineral and Gem Society meetings in Durban. They included, Ashley Diack with friend, Philip Hawkins, who was interested in lapidary as well as Abe and Les Liebenberg who were longstanding members of the Natal Mineral and Gem Society at that time.
Due to the distance involved in travelling to Durban, it was decided that it would make sense to have a club in PBM. Horst Windisch from FOSAGAMS was approached about the idea and he readily gave his support. In order to pursue the idea and find out if there were other interested people, it was decided to place an article in the local newspaper to see what interest there was in PBM. This was done in 1989.
The preliminary meeting was held at the Natal Museum and about 50 people attended the meeting. It was agreed that a club was formed. At the augaral meeting that was held there soon thereafter , a committee was elected, and the founder-members included Ashley, Philip, Abe and Les, Merle and John Deare, Jackie and John Younghusband, Norma and Murray McCrystal, Pearl and Derek Scotney, John and Lorraine Richmond, Bob Contat, and several others.
Initially the venue for the meetings was the Natal Museum. In about 1992/93 it was decided that it would be beneficial to have a club house where equipment could be installed and used by the members. At this stage various items of machinery had been donated by the Durban Club, while some items were under construction by the Pietermaritzburg members themselves. Johnny and Jackie Younghusband generously offered the club the use of a garage at their home in Blackridge, and the members soon turned their dream into a reality.
In 1993, the Pietermaritzburg Gem and Mineral Club hosted a Gemboree at Melmoth. This successful event was reported in the FOSAGAMS magazine. Members also participated in the FOSAGAMS National Show on several occasions, where they showed specimens as well as cut and polished stones and other objet d'art. The club even held a cabbing and faceting demonstration in the foyer of the Natal Society Library, as part of a membership drive.
During the time, Craig A'Bear took over as chairman in September 1995, with a membership of about 30 members, followed by Murray McCrystal in 1996, when Craig moved to Durban. After about 5 years. It was necessary for the club to find alternative location to hold meetings and house the equipment. In about 1997, when the need rose to find an alternative venue, Abe and Les offered the use of their home as it was in town and very central. In 1997, the Pietermaritzburg Club was tasked organizing the Gemboree which it chose to hold in Aliwal North.