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Information on Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa

Conference Venues South Africa brings you information on Kimberley situated in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa including information on Facilities and Recreation, Climate, Founding, History Suburbs, Town Planning and Geography.

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Kimberley is a town in the Northern Cape province located on the main road between Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is a sheep farming area that breeds many of the country’s top merinos. It is also renowned for producing high quality racehorses and many stud farms.

Kimberley and the surrounding areas boast a wide variety of tourist attractions, not least of which is its world famous Big Hole. Amongst the others are a number of museums and an art gallery, all of which rate amongst the best that South Africa has to offer.

Kimberley is situated almost in the centre of South Africa between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Surrounding Kimberley are many sites and memorials of some important battles of the Anglo-Boer war, most notably the Siege of Kimberley in 1899 with the famous Long Cecil on display, and the battlefield site of Magersfontein where Boer General used trench warfare for the first time.


Kimberley History

In 1866, Erasmus Jacobs found a small white pebble on the banks of the Orange River, on the farm De Kalk leased from local Griquas, near Hopetown. The pebble turned out to be a 21.25 carat diamond. In 1871, an even larger 83.50 carat diamond was found on the slopes of Colesberg Kopje, and led to the first diamond rush into the area. As miners arrived in their thousands, the hill disappeared and became known as the Big Hole. A town, New Rush, was formed in the area and was renamed to Kimberley on 5 June 1873, after the British Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time, John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley. The British, who had control of much of South Africa, were swift to occupy the area of the diamond mine, which became the British colony of Griqualand West. The Boers were upset by this, because they wanted it to be a part of the Orange Free State as it lay between Orange and Vaal rivers.

The largest company to operate a diamond mine in South Africa was the De Beers Company, owned by Cecil Rhodes. Very quickly, Kimberley became the largest city in the area, mostly due to a massive African migration to the area from all over the continent. The immigrants were accepted with open arms, because the De Beers company was in search of cheap labour to operate the mines with.

Five large holes were dug into the earth, which followed the kimberlite pipes. The largest, The Kimberley mine or "Big Hole" covering 170 000 m², reached a depth of 240 m and yielded 3 tons of diamonds. The mine was closed in 1914, while three of the holes – Du Toitspan, Wesselton and Bultfontein – closed down in 2005.

On 2 September 1882, Kimberley became the first town in the southern hemisphere to install electric street lighting. The rising importance of Kimberley led to one of the earliest South African and International Exhibitions to be staged in Kimberley in 1892. It was opened by Sir Henry Loch, the then Governor of the Cape of Good Hope on the 8th of September. It presented exhibits of art, an exhibition of paintings from the royal collection of Queen Victoria and mining machinery and implements amongst other items. The exhibition aroused considerable interest at international level, which resulted in a competition for display space

South Africa's first school of mines was opened here in 1896 and later relocated to Johannesburg, becoming the core of the University of the Witwatersrand. In fact the first two years were attended at colleges elsewhere in Capetown, Grahamstown or Stellenbosch, the third year in Kimberley and the fourth year in Johannesburg. Buildings were constructed against a total cost of 9000 pounds with De Beers contributing on a pound for pound basis.

On 14 October 1899, Kimberley was besieged at the beginning of the Second Boer War. The British forces trying to relieve the siege suffered heavy losses. The siege was only lifted on 15 February 1900, but the war continued until May 1902. By that time, the British had built a concentration camp at Kimberley to house Boer women and children.

In 1913, South Africa's first flying school opened there and started training the pilots of the South African Aviation Corps, later the South African Air Force. It also housed South Africa's first stock exchange.

Towns and Suburbs of the Northern Cape province of South Africa

Augrabies , Colesberg , Kimberley , Springbok , Upington


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