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Philip Bawcombe's Kimberley


UPDATED: 07/04/2022

7 April 1881, JB Robinson takes his seat in the Cape Legislative Assembly.
7 April 1904, Gladstone Park opens.
7 April 1972, SA cricketer Gerhardus Liebenberg born in Upington.

The Artist Philip Bawcombe
Philip William Bawcombe was born in England in 1906 and died aged 94 years in South Africa on New Year’s Day 2000.

He was a painter of landscapes and buildings, working mainly with watercolour, but also with oil, acrylic, gouache and ink. In 1922 Bawcombe was apprenticed to a firm of shopfitters in London; then worked as a designer at Maple and Company, London, for three years; before joining a ship decorating company as the senior designer. From 1930 until 1938 he worked in the British film industry, before moving to Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and then finally to South Africa in 1939.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1938; was a member of the London Sketch Club and the Chelsea Arts Club; and a member of NSA and its President in 1948.

From 1939 to 1943 he served in the Camouflage Unit in the Middle East, and was appointed an Official War Artist to the South African forces, serving in North Africa and Italy, from 1943 until the end of the war in 1945.

After the war he worked, while living in South Africa, as an art director and designer in the British film industry; as well as on three films in South Africa during 1970 and 1971. He was the official designer of the Rhodes Centenary Exhibition in Bulawayo in 1953; and from 1962 to 1964 designed villas on Skiathos, an island in Greece.

From 1946, and up until his death in 2000, he had numerous exhibitions throughout southern Africa.

He was married to Pat Skilliter.

Two of his many publications include Philip Bawcombe’s Johannesburg (1972), and Philip Bawcombe’s Kimberley (1976).

All of the original paintings are owned by De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited and hang in the Kimberley Mine Museum (Big Hole).

H.F. Oppenheimer hailed Philip Bawcombe’s Kimberley (1976) as capturing “…the spirit and portraying the fabric of old Kimberley.”

UPDATED: 07/04/2017

7 April 1881, JB Robinson takes his seat in the Cape Legislative Assembly.
7 April 1972, SA cricketer Gerhardus Liebenberg born in Upington.


Sir Joseph Benjamin Robinson, 1st Baronet (Born Cradock 3 August 1840 – Died Wynberg 30 October 1929) was a South African mining magnate and Randlord.


Joseph Benjamin Robinson

The son of an 1820 settler, he fought on the side of the Orange Free State in a Basuto War, and later became a general trader, wool-buyer and stock-breeder at Dordrecht.

On the discovery of diamonds in South Africa in 1866/7 he hastened to the Vaal River district, where, by purchasing the stones and afterwards by buying diamond-bearing land, notably at Kimberley, he soon acquired a considerable fortune. His rather forceful business tactics came in for a lot of criticism, earning him the title of “Old Buccaneer”, but even so he became a member of the Mining Board and later chairman. He raised and commanded the earlier Kimberley Light Horse.

He was also Mayor of Kimberley in 1880, and for four years was a representative of Griqualand West in the Cape colonial parliament. On the discovery of gold in the Witwatersrand district in 1886, Alfred Beit financed a partnership with ₤25 000. Robinson purchased the Langlaagte and Randfontein estates, but Beit soon dissolved the partnership because of Robinson’s temper and business methods. Robinson chose to keep the western portion of their former joint assets, while Beit took the eastern section. His views as to the westerly trend of the main gold-bearing reef were entirely contrary to the bulk of South African opinion at the time, but events proved him to be correct, and the enormous appreciation in value of his various properties made him one of the richest men in South Africa.

He founded the Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company in 1890, which was the largest individual undertaking on the Reef and one of the largest in the world. As a Rand capitalist he stood aloof from combinations with other gold-mining interests, and took no part in the Johannesburg reform movement, maintaining friendly relations with President Kruger. He claimed that it was as the result of his representations after the Jameson Raid that Kruger appointed the Industrial Commission of 1897, whose recommendations had they been carried out would have remedied some of the Uitlander grievances. On 27 July 1908 he was created a baronet of Hawthornden and Dudley House.

In June 1922 he was nominated for a UK peerage but declined the honour. The nomination, by UK coalition Prime Minister David Lloyd George was subject to much debate in parliament as Robinson was considered unsuitable for such an honour, only rewarded because of his donation to party funds. The air of scandal surrounding the issue tarnished the Coalition government’s image, and was somewhat responsible for the Conservatives detachment of Lloyd George’s Liberals from the party, later in 1922. The general scandal of sale of peerages led to the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925.

His death in 1929 caused another great scandal in South Africa and Britain upon discovery of his will. His personal fortune of £12 million was given to his heirs except one of his daughters, who was only given a mere £2 thousand. He gave nothing to charity.

Robinson Street in Beaconsfield is named after him.

(Mostly from Wikipedia).

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