2 May 1881, First railway in Kimberley, a privately owned service line from the Kimberley Mine to the Floors depositing area using four locomotives and several wagons, starts operating.
(Pictured is a section of the original Kimberley Central Diamond Mining Company floors area in 1887.)
DID YOU KNOW
The depositing Floors were made by removing the bush and grass from a fairly level piece of ground. The land was then rolled and made as hard and as smooth as possible. The Floors were generally laid off in rectangular sections 600 yards long by 200 yards wide, each floor section holding about 50 000 loads. The depositing was done on portable lines extending from the main line on either side of the floors.
A truck (cocopan) holding 16 cubic feet was used on the surface when the mines were worked from the open pit, and then were introduced in underground workings. This became the unit of measurement throughout the diamond fields. A load of blue ground weighed about 1600 pounds and covered about 21 square feet when deposited on the floors.
The blue ground, once deposited, remained on the floors without much manipulation, the sun and moisture having a wonderful effect upon it, with large pieces soon commencing to crumble. The ground was continually harrowed (ploughed) to assist in pulverization. Spans of mules were used in 1889 to draw the harrow back and forth, but steam traction engines were ordered in early 1890. The length of time necessary for the ground to be exposed before it became sufficiently pulverized depended entirely upon the season and the amount of rain that had fallen. The blue from the Kimberley Mine became well pulverized in about 3 months during summer, while that from the De Beers mine took about 6 months. The longer the ground remained exposed the better it was for washing.
Steam traction engines to harrow the floors were operational by end March 1892.
The Florianville (Floors) Township was named because it was built on the original Kimberley Mine Floors area.
In 1947 the Directors of De Beers Consolidated Mines decided “…to dispense of certain land on the former Kimberley Mine Floors to the Kimberley City Council for housing and industry, necessitating removal of the sparsely scattered blue ground.”
During 1948 and 1949 there were already 250 houses completed in Florianville (Floors), with another 250 being erected.
In 1950 the De Beers Company erected a new washing plant on the Kimberley Floors to start up washing the old blue grade dump of approximately 350 000 loads. This Plant started operating from February 1950. Thus two washing plants were operating, the smaller one on what would be the extent of Florianville Township, and the other on what would later become Colville Township.
The Floors Township was completed by 17 November 1953 and encompassed within the roads known as Recreation Road (west and south boundary), Community Road (east boundary along the railway line), and Pine Road and Farm Road (northern boundary).
Despite the fact that housing had already been built, the washing of the old Kimberley Mine Floors area continued up until 1956, some 350 000 loads being sorted by the end of 1949. By cessation of washing over 700 000 loads from the Kimberley Floors were sorted between 1947 and 1956.
The final day of washing at the Kimberley Floors plant was on 12 October 1956, two extra 8 feet Pans being erected at the Stadium Heap Plant and Kimberley Mine Plant. The Stadium Heap washing Plant for the treatment of dumps was erected in April 1953 with washing beginning the next month.
By the end of November 1957 the Grease Tables at the Floors Washing Plant (Colville) had been moved.
DID YOU KNOW
Dinner in the evenings was always entertaining and many thousands shared a meal with Cecil Rhodes, but what was worrying to all, especially his staff, was if he was sitting next to a person he considered a fool. His valet from 1886, Charlie Rickson, related that if his neighbour could not converse with him, it was quite easy for everyone at the table to see what he thought of the person’s intellect. Another habit, which was most repulsive to many at the dinner table, was that if he had an itch, and wasn’t thinking, he would just scratch himself, no matter who was at the table or surrounds. He disliked eating alone and the only times that he did so was at breakfast. Notwithstanding this habit, he was a stickler for cleanliness, and bathed and shaved every day whether in town or travelling in the veld. “He loved to have his bath in the open. It was Tony’s duty as soon as the wagons were halted to spread a waterproof sheet behind the nearest tree, to provide a bucket of water, which was placed in the centre of the waterproof sheet, and to put out Mr Rhodes’ shaving materials and a change of clothing. Rhodes then had his bath with the aid of a huge sponge, which he dipped into the bucket of water and squeezed over his body. With Rhodes as an example we always appeared fresh and clean at breakfast.” Tony would always travel with at least three dozen changes of apparel for Rhodes.
When he was happy, he would whistle, but no one could ever recall him singing, except on his deathbed when he was delirious. That he was fond of music has been well recorded, and he had his personal band at Groote Schuur, made up of coloured men who worked on the estate. It was a brass band, but when necessary for the occasion, they would bring violins and other string instruments along. Rhodes particularly liked marches and polkas and the band specialised in these tunes. He had the uncanny knack of being able to command sleep whenever the urge came upon him. On many an occasion while out shooting he would go quietly under a bush with a stone for a pillow and fall asleep. A dinner party was given in his honour, and the other guests, after waiting for a reasonable amount of time, concluded that he must have forgotten the engagement. However, after the dinner was completed, some of the guests went into the next room where they found Rhodes asleep in a chair. He had walked into the dinner party a little early and finding no one around, had gone into the room, found a chair and promptly fallen asleep.