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De Beers Warren Street Head Office

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 06 MAY

UPDATED: 06/05/2020

6 May 1887, De Beers Mining Company AGM held at their new offices for first time in Warren Street.
6 May 2009, Hazel Jenkins inducted as Premier of the Northern Cape.

De Beers Mining Company has AGM at the new offices

The Chairman of the De Beers Mining Company, Cecil Rhodes, in his report to the shareholders at the Annual General meeting held on 6 May of 1887, said that “your Directors have found it necessary to build new offices in order to provide for the increased and increasing requirements of the company…”

The Diamond Fields Advertiser reporter, skilled in shorthand, wrote: “Yesterday afternoon the Annual General Meeting of shareholders in the above company [De Beers Mining Company] was held in the new offices, where there was present Messrs CJ Rhodes, MLA, in the Chair…” This suggests that construction of what is known as the Rhodes’ Boardroom began at some stage during 1886 and was completed in 1887, nearly a full year before the amalgamation of the Kimberley mines. Further evidence that points to the year 1887 is that an exterior brick on the side entrance to the Boardroom has inscribed upon it: “87 SG”. It is very neat and was in all likelihood done by an artisan working on the building.

The Boardroom has been built using are what is known as “Church and McLauchlin” bricks and the process used to compress the bricks before baking can be seen quite clearly upon closer inspection.

There is an interesting tale of an Illegal Diamond Buying “sting” operation that took place while building the Boardroom. There was an attempt to trap one of the bricklayers busy on the building who was suspected of this practice of IDB. Irvine Rowell Grimmer, great cricketer and golfer, and a lifelong employee of De Beers Consolidated Mines, remembered it well: “It appears that Detective Chadwick sat watching the man from an office in the old building on the opposite side of the road. The transaction was just about to be completed when Mr Roper, chief of the Diamond Detective Department, came into view on his horse, quite unconscious of what was going on. The would-be illicit diamond buyer, recognizing the passer-by, threw the diamond over the new building and it was never found. The trap had failed, so there was no case for trial.”

UPDATED: 06/05/2019

6 May 1887, De Beers MC AGM held at their new offices for first time in Warren Street.
6 May 2009, Hazel Jenkins (pictured) inducted as Premier of the Northern Cape.

DID YOU KNOW

Hazel Gertrude Jenkins is a former Premier of the Northern Cape province. She served as Premier from May 2009 until she officially stood down in April 2013, following a stroke.

PT-Hazel_Jenkins-2009

Hazel Jenkins (Former Northern Cape Premier)

The motion to recognise her stepping down as Premier (on medical grounds) was defeated in a vote by the legislature on 30 April 2013 so that technically Jenkins remained Premier. Hence Sylvia Lucas was sworn in on 30 April not as Jenkins’ successor but as Acting Premier. Jenkins subsequently resigned, as of 22 May 2013, paving the way for Lucas to be sworn in as her successor on 23 May 2013.

Aged 49 years at the time that she assumed office as Premier, Jenkins had been the Mayor of the Pixley ka Seme (formerly Bo Karoo) District Municipality, at De Aar in the Karoo. Previously she was a teacher.

Born on 6 June 1960 in Ceres in the Western Cape, she was educated in Worcester, matriculating from the Esselen Park High School. She graduated with a teaching diploma from the Bellville Training College, with her first posting as a teacher at Rocklands High School in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town. Jenkins was a Youth Councillor in the Anglican Church.

In 1995 Jenkins was elected as a Councillor in De Aar’s Emthanjeni Local Municipality, going on to serve as Executive Mayor for the Bo-Karoo District Municipality. She served two terms as the Deputy Chairperson of the South African Local Government Association.

In 2009, following the landslide victory of the ruling African National Congress in the general election, Jenkins was announced as the party’s nominee for Premier of the Northern Cape, in succession to Dipuo Peters. The announcement drew criticism from the provincial ANC branch, however, which was annoyed at the sidelining of its chairperson John Block. Jenkins said at the time: “We will work as a united force. Contrary to what some might say about the premier being a puppet on a string, we will work as a collective…” Block pledged his support, adding “I still remain the political head of the Province and together with the PEC (Provincial Executive Council) will assist and guide Jenkins and the rest of the Executive Council.”

Her Premiership became effective on 6 May 2009.

Jenkins collapsed, suffering a stroke, while delivering her 2012 State of the Province Address in Kimberley on 17 February 2012, and was admitted to the intensive care unit at Kimberley Hospital. The Executive Council of the Province met on 20 February, unanimously resolving to appoint the MEC for Education, Ms Grizelda Cjiekella, as Acting Premier for the duration of Premier Hazel Jenkins’ incapacity leave.

Premier Jenkins, following a lengthy hospital stay, made a surprise first public appearance at the Northern Cape ANC elective conference in Upington on 7 June 2012. (Mostly from Wikipedia)

6 May 1887, De Beers MC AGM held at their new offices for first time in Warren Street.
6 May 2009, Hazel Jenkins (pictured) inducted as Premier of the Northern Cape.

DID YOU KNOW

Contrary to popular belief, Cecil Rhodes was not the first Chairman of the De Beers Mining Company, that honour being bestowed upon Robert Dundas Graham, who was Chairman from 1880 upon formation of the company until May 1882. Rhodes became Chairman for two periods, 1882 to 1883, and again from 1886 until the amalgamation and formation of De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1888. Charles Dunell Rudd was the Chairman from 1883 until 1886. Rhodes was however, the first Secretary, but by 1882 that position belonged to Neville Pickering. Rhodes held the interestingly titled position of Treasurer-General from 1883 until 1886, this because the requirements of a Member of the Legislative assembly necessitated him to be in Cape Town for most of the year. Bob Graham, a man described as more remarkable than Rhodes in his carelessness of dress and manners, was a prominent solicitor of Kimberley in the 1870s, while his language was more often than not quite appalling. It was not a surprise that he remained Chairman only for the first few years.

Despite his lowly position in the beginnings, Rhodes appeared to have wielded great power, as noted in a message to Bob Graham on a Craven Club letterhead in February 1881. Graham, then Chairman of the company, appears to have no say. “I write you that Alderson and I have resolved to sell 30 000 De Beers at 180. I sell 10 000, Alderson 10 000, you 10 000. It is a syndicate buying and of course they will go up after sale. I have taken this responsibility on myself as I consider there is nothing to warrant their prices. You can of course reject the sale but I could not communicate with you, so I place this on record beforehand. Yours. C.J. Rhodes”

In 1885 the capital of De Beers Mining Company had increased from the original £200 000 to £841 550, and there were only ten owners of claims left in the mine compared to 30 in Bultfontein Mine, 37 in Dutoitspan Mine and 19 in the Kimberley Mine where Barney Barnato was busy consolidating. Systems put into place by the De Beers Board had also resulted in the recovery of one carat being reduced from 16s 6d to 7s 2d by 1888, and the introduction in 1886 of the Compounds had assisted dramatically in reducing Illegal Diamond Buying (and selling, for that matter.) Rhodes met up with Gardner Williams in August 1885 at the Kimberley Club and they spoke into the early hours of next morning discussing the gold fields, and the following day Rhodes showed him over the De Beers and Kimberley Mines. In late 1886 Williams again met with Rhodes, and this time was asked by Rhodes to take over the position as manager of the De Beers Mining Company, “…I must have a qualified mining engineer.”

By 1886 the Company was booming and their London office was opened and inaugurated by Phillipson-Stow and amalgamations were still being attempted in Kimberley to unify all the mines under one umbrella, preferably that of Rhodes although it would be a hard battle with Barnato. In fact, Rhodes had already attempted an amalgamation on two occasions but failed. On 10 May 1887 the Board of Directors confirmed the appointment of Gardner Williams as General manager of De Beers, and he immediately began developing and improving the De Beers mining operations.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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