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Today in Kimberley's History

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 08 FEBRUARY

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UPDATED: 08/02/2018

8 February 1900, City Hall architect Fergus Carstairs-Rogers hit by Long Tom shell splinter in the Kimberley Club.
8 February 1947, Cornelia Smith and her stepson Reginald electrocuted in their Greenside home.

DID YOU KNOW

Cornelia Smith and her 16 year old stepson, Reginald Smith, were electrocuted in their home at 7 Second Avenue, Greenside on Saturday afternoon 8 February 1947 through a faulty washing machine.

The coloured domestic servant employed by the Smiths said that Cornelia, who was taking washed clothes out of the washing machine in the kitchen, complained that the water was “pricking” her hands. She had then collapsed backwards on to the stove.

The employee had rushed to the next door house and called Reginald, who, together with his cousin Peter Smith, hurried to the kitchen.

Peter commented:

“Reggie tried to pull his mother off the stove with a broom and then moved to the plug to pull it out. He lost his footing on the wet floor and struck his head against the stove. I ran back home for help.”

Peter’s mother accompanied him back to the house and threw the main switch before entering the kitchen.

Cornelia Smith had been killed instantly, while Reginald died some time later in the hospital.

8 February 1900, City Hall architect Fergus Carstairs-Rogers hit by Long Tom shell splinter in the Kimberley Club.
(Pictured is Fergus and Lucy Carstairs-Rogers)

DID YOU KNOW
Among the targets of the Long Tom gun – rechristened Short Tom by the Boers as this particular gun had its barrel shortened – were the Sanatorium, the Conning Tower on the De Beers Mine headgear, and the Kimberley Club, and all were selected because of either British army or Cecil Rhodes being in the proximity and/or using the building.

PT-Short_Tom-1899

The Long Tom on its way to Kimberley. The barrel now shortened, the gun is re-christened “Short Tom”.

PT-Fergus_and_Lucy Carstairs-Rogers-1900

Fergus & Lucy Carstairs-Rogers

It was at about 15h00 on 8 February 1900, the second day of the Long Tom bombardment, that one of the twenty five shells fired into Kimberley that day, passed through the Middlebrooks photographic studios (Kimco) and exploded on Dutoitspan Road, spreading shrapnel and shell casing fragments indiscriminately in the immediate vicinity. A 13½ pound fragment crashed into the verandah of the Kimberley Club badly splintering the woodwork, while yet another fragment hit the architect Fergus Carstairs-Rogers in the leg. A Club member, he had been at the entrance and was leaving the Club. So tremendous was the shock of the explosion that those in the Club at the time believed that the building had been hit.

Dolly Harvey (nee Carstairs-Rogers), a daughter of Fergus, stated that her father had been in the Club for a meeting with Major BEA O’Meara, and was leaving when the shell exploded. He had served in the 16th Queen’s Hussars and been a topographer at Aldershot, so had been asked by O’Meara to draw a proposed route to assist Lord Roberts and General French in their plan to relieve Kimberley and had been at the Club to hand the map to O’Meara.

In his early days at the family home on Hillside Crescent in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Carstairs-Rogers family were visited frequently by intimate friend Sir James Simpson, who at the time was testing the efficiency of chloroform as a drug. So when the Long Tom splinter injured Fergus, he knew all about the effects of chloroform and refused to take it for the extraction of the splinter. Although he was in great pain at the time he rather preferred to take a tot of whisky and it was under the influence of alcohol that he directed some medical friends in the extraction of the splinter, this operation being conducted in primitive conditions on some tables in the Club dining room.

This Long Tom splinter, after being cleaned, was later set into a souvenir brooch and was presented to Lucy Sidney Carstairs-Rogers, Fergus’ wife.

This unique brooch was donated to the Kimberley Club by the family, in 2009, as a memento of the role both the Club and Carstairs-Rogers had played in those interesting and terrifying days of the Siege of Kimberley of 1899-1900. Rogers had been a member of the Club since 1896.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

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