Assuredly something historically important happened in Kimberley on this day, but the information has not yet been found. The research continues, but not at this very moment as we are all locked down and the research library is closed.
A few Harry O memories of Kimberley
Harry Oppenheimer’s earliest memories of Kimberley include going for rides from their Lodge Road residence in the pony trap with his brother Frank (who drowned in 1935) and the family maid, as well as the all too frequent mention of diamonds, and that his father was the Mayor of Kimberley.
Talking to The Sunday Times in 1973, he recalled that Kimberley was “a place that has always fascinated me. I was sent back to England to be educated and then when I joined my father in the business, he packed me off to Kimberley for a year to learn to sort diamonds.”
In fact, he rented a house in Egerton Road, a stones throw from 7 Lodge Road, but traveled by train on weekends to Johannesburg as Kimberley had little or no night life. During his time in Kimberley he went horse riding a lot and was frequently seen in the Kimberley Club.
“Kimberley is the only real diamond town in the world, in the sense that it produces diamonds as well as handles them. No other diamond mine anywhere has a big place like Kimberley to go with it – usually there is just a small community.
“It is still small enough to retain a village atmosphere, with everyone knowing everyone else and there is dignity in its buildings. The De Beers Headquarters still has old cast-ironwork around it. But the town is being improvised all the time, although for me that is rather sad. I suppose it is inevitable that it must start to lose its Wild West atmosphere…”
“Kimberley was famous for its great characters. The most outstanding personality of my early days was E.H. Farrer, the De Beers resident Director.”
Nothing found as yet for today. Research is ongoing.
DID YOU KNOW
St Alban’s Anglican Church was built on a section of the Old De Beers cemetery, Kimberley’s second oldest such burial ground. Dating from circa May 1871, the cemetery as such was filled with great rapidity and by the late 1870s had fallen into disrepair.
The boundaries of the graveyard were originally walled and were in the approximate position of where the hedge is today. In 1883 the Anglican community in the Gladstone/De Beers suburbs decided that church services should be held in the area rather than force the women and children to walk past the “throngs of natives more or less intoxicated” when attending services in Jones Street, where St Cyprians was then positioned. Services were held in the De Beers Mining Company offices (the former Gladstone School) until the church (known originally as the De Beers Church) was ready for services. The foundation stone was laid by the Bishop, Dr Bruce Knight on 3 October 1886 and within four months the nave, baptistery, porch and belfry were completed at a cost of £1040. The architects Stent and Hallach designed the church. The vestry was added in 1888 at a cost of £200. The sanctuary, chancel and southern transept were added in 1913, the last alterations or additions made. Historical artifacts within the church are the main chalice and patten set (donated by Sir Frederick Carrington), and two candlesticks in the side Chapel altar used during Cecil Rhodes’ funeral ceremony.