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Wesselton Mine and Compound

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY – 17 NOVEMBER

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17 November 1871, The first Commissioners for Kimberley arrive from the Cape.
17 November 1904, Premier Mine re-named Wesselton Mine.
17 November 1912, 15 year old Jack Chappell dies in Kenilworth after eating tainted ham.

Pictured is Henry Ward in 1892.

DID YOU KNOW

De Beers Consolidated Mines gained control of the Premier Mine in December 1891 having finally bought the farm Benaauwheidfontein (and Olifantsfontein) from J.J. Wessels, although they permitted Henry Ward as the bond holder the right to extract 5 million loads over a period of five years until expiration in 1896, this settlement being a court decision in favour of the claims of De Beers Consolidated Mines to ownership. The settlement agreed to by De Beers and Ward for that five year period was that Ward would pay De Beers £60 000 per annum. De Beers took over from Ward completely in January 1896, Ward having extracted his five million loads on 11 January, and by December hauling of the blue ground commenced, and washing operations began on 3 January 1898. Ward had taken out an average of 16 000 carats per month.

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Wesselton Mine

The mine was christened the Premier Mine by Henry Ward in honour of Cecil John Rhodes becoming the Premier of the Cape Colony in 1890, but was also known as the Wesselton Mine until it was officially proclaimed as the Premier Mine by Sir Alfred Milner, the Governor of the Cape Colony, on 27 November 1899.

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Henry Ward

There was to be another change of name however, and at a De Beers Board meeting on 17 November 1904 the Board “…resolved after discussion to call it the Wesselton Mine in future to avoid confusion with the Premier Mine, Pretoria…” that had been discovered in 1898. This Pretoria farm, owned by Willem Prinsloo, was bought by Thomas (later Sir Thomas) Cullinan in 1902 for £52 000 from the daughter of Prinsloo, he having died during the Anglo-Boer War, and the mining started in all earnest that same year. The Pretoria Premier Mine is famous for the Cullinan diamond.

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