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.
Kimberley is a town with 17,354 inhabitants in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, located on the main road from Cape Town to Johannesburg. In a sheep-farming area spread over half-a-million hectares, greater Kimberley breeds many of the country’s top merinos. It is also renowned for producing high-quality racehorses and many stud farms, including one owned by legendary golfer, Gary Player, are nearby.
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 (4.25 g) diamond. In 1871, an even larger 83.50 carat (16.7 g) 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 prompt to annex 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.
Five big 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.
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