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Constance Williams

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 4 AUGUST

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4 August 1902, Opening of the Vaal River Estate (Sydney) diamond diggings.
4 August 1911, Ferdinand Schuler, Managing Director of the DFA, dies in Hospital.
4 August 1911, Constance Hall opens and has its first dance to music of Herr Rybnikar.
4 August 1933, Former Mayor William Sagar dies.

DID YOU KNOW

The Constance Hall was originally the Boiler room of the De Beers Mine in 1889. After the mine closed in 1908, the then General Manager of De Beers, Alpheus Fuller Williams, decided to turn it into a social hall, which was done, opening on 4 August 1911. It was named Constance in honour of Alpheus Williams’ wife Constance “Kips” Margaret Dalziel Smith, daughter of Dr JAJ Smith DSO, whom he had married in 1903. Repair work was necessary in the 1950s and extensions were done in 1952 at a cost of £20 000. It was re-opened officially by Mr HH Taylor on 5 December 1952, and was utilized as a social hall until the mid-1990s when it became a discotheque named “Danskraal”.

Next door to the Constance Hall is the original Cold Storage Room, at a later stage used by St John’s. The cold storage room was built before the siege of Kimberley in 1899, although the machinery only arrived after the siege had been lifted. Despite this, George Labram, the De Beers engineer, designed and manufactured a temporary plant that enabled the cold room to be utilized during the siege. The De Beers company had decided on a cold storage room for three reasons: the recent loss of cattle to rinderpest (in 1897); the risk of insufficient supply to requirements; and to keep down the price of meat. The room measured some 31 152 cubic feet and could hold 6000 carcasses of sheep. The plant could also make 5 tonnes of ice daily.

Pictured is Constance Williams (nee Smith).

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

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