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Diamond Fields Advertiser in 1901

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 23 MARCH

UPDATED: 23/03/2018

23 March 1872, First game of cricket in Kimberley when Natalians beat Port Elizaberthans.
23 March 1876, Dedication of the “new” Freemasons Hall in Dutoitspan Road.
23 March 1878, First issue of the Diamond Fields Advertiser, Kimberley’s newspaper.
23 March 1899, Missionary Reverend John MacKenzie dies.

Pictured are the premises of the Diamond Fields Advertiser from 1879 to 1901, and from 1901 to 1949.

DID YOU KNOW

Kimberley’s Diamond Fields Advertiser newspaper turns 140 years old today, the first issue having appeared on the streets on Saturday 23 March 1878.

The DFA, as it is known locally, has outlived all of its competitors, and is Kimberley’s sixth oldest surviving business behind legal firm Haarhoffs (founded 1872), the Halfway House Hotel (1872), Cheers (Dutoitspan Club 1869 in Barkly West and 1872 in Kimberley) and Elliott Maris Wilmans and Hay (1873), and probably the Star of the West (date unknown and currently closed).

It was John Radford, a compositor working for the Diamond News, who first published the then free newspaper in 1878, The Diamond Fields Advertiser and Commercial Guide, with editions on the streets twice weekly, Wednesdays and Saturdays. By 1879 Radford was charging sixpence (6d).

The newspapers first premises were on the corner of Natal and Stockdale streets for the first year before moving to more commodious premises on the corner of Dutoitspan Road and Chapel Street where they remained until 1901. They then moved to a substantial bricked building in Stockdale Street. The DFA remained there until 1949 when it moved to Currey Street, OK Bazaars taking over the building when the DFA next moved to Permanent Way in November 1961. In 1985, the DFA made its final move, this time to Villiers Street, the home of Northern Cape Printers.

Originally a broadsheet, the newspaper became a tabloid in 1976. In the early 1980s it dropped the Saturday issue but today still comes out from Monday to Friday. By the middle 1990s, the printing was done in Johannesburg and the newspaper delivered to Kimberley.

Prominent journalists who worked, or wrote, for the DFA over the years included Vere Stent, Sol Plaatje, Benjamin Bennett, Cyril Harris, and in more recent times, Dan Retief.

Sol Plaatje was a regular contributor to the DFA.

During the Siege of Kimberley 14 October 1899-15 February 1900, the newspaper was the subject of a feud between Cecil Rhodes and garrison commander, Colonel Robert George Kekewich. The local newspaper, which was sympathetic to Rhodes, printed a story that vehemently attacked the military situation. The result was that the DFA ceased production for a week and the editor, George Green, went into hiding. Kekewich obtained permission from his superior to place Rhodes under arrest if necessary.

Editors of the DFA:

1878 – 1884 Henry Tucker, secretary of the Kimberley mining board and one time Member of the Cape Parliament.
1884 – 1896 Robert Fisher Wilson, independent spirit and fearless writer. Went on to become editor of the Johannesburg Times. 
1896 – 1898 Albert Cartwright. Went on to edit the SA News and the Johannesburg Times. 
1898 – 1910 George A L Green, Rhodes’s ‘Prince of Journalists’. Went on to edit the Cape Argus. 
1910 – 1923 Frank Ireland 
1923 – 1932 Henry Lissant Collins 
1932 – 1938 George A Simpson. Was one of Sol Plaatje’s pallbearers at his funeral at the West End cemetery.
1938 – 1939 Hastings H Beck 
1939 – 1942 A Harrington 
1942 – 1949 Rex Hall. Later helped to establish South Africa’s Iron and Steel Corporation. 
1949 – 1959 David Brechin 
1959 – 1962 Archie Atkinson 
1962 – 1967 Conrad Lighton 
1967 – 1977 Mike Lloyd 
1977 – 1984 Graham Etherington 
1985 – 1991 Anthony Ball 
1991 – 1992 Charles Guild (acting) 
1992 – 2002 Kevin Ritchie. Went on to edit The Star.
2002 – present Johan du Plessis

UPDATED: 23/03/2017

23 March 1872, First game of cricket in Kimberley when Natalians beat Port Elizaberthans.
23 March 1876, Dedication of the “new” Freemasons Hall in Dutoitspan Road.
23 March 1878, First issue of the Diamond Fields Advertiser, Kimberley’s newspaper.
23 March 1899, Missionary Reverend John MacKenzie dies.

DID YOU KNOW

The St Matthews Church (Anglican) on Barkly Road has its origins in early Kimberley in that a Richard Miles started holding services in a ramshackle shelter. The info states 1870 but this is more likely to be 1871.

The first building, some 60’ by 20’, was erected by Canon Bevan in 1877, and in 1883 a new site adjacent to the church building was acquired. In 1888 the foundation stone was laid and on 2 June 1889 the church was dedicated.

In 1895 Father Lawson took charge and built the schoolroom.

The two wings were added in 1915. (All information above from the St Matthews file at the Africana Library).

TWO MEMORIAL PLAQUES in ST MATTHEW’S
Two of the memorial plaques in St Matthews Church are for men who were killed in the battle of Tweebosch on 7 March 1902, where Lord Methuen’s force was defeated by General JH de la Rey and Methuen was captured. While Moore is on the battle roll of honour as being in Ashburner’s Horse, Abrahams is not on the roll. Abrahams is quite probably one of approximately 100 men who served in the very irregular unit known as the Cape Special Police, a unit made up of Africans and Coloureds. This unit was also nicknamed Tilney’s Gang as well as the Kimberley Killers and had a fine reputation. Those Special Police who surrendered at Tweebosch were executed and buried in a mass grave that remains undiscovered.

23 March 1872, First game of cricket in Kimberley when Natalians beat Port Elizaberthans.
23 March 1876, Dedication of the “new” Freemasons Hall in Dutoitspan Road.
23 March 1878, First issue of the Diamond Fields Advertiser, Kimberley’s newspaper.
23 March 1899, Missionary Reverend John MacKenzie dies.

DID YOU KNOW

The earliest paper on the Diamond Fields was a weekly called the Diamond Field, published from 15 October 1870 at Pniel. It moved the following year first to Du Toit’s Pan and then to New Rush (later renamed Kimberley), and had a strongly anti-imperial view point. Another of the early papers was the pro-British Diamond News of Richard William Murray.

PT-Diamond_Fields_Advertiser-1878

Diamond Fields Advertiser Newspaper (DFA)

The Independent, owned by William Ling in 1876, was acquired by J. B. Robinson. By the late 1870s the success of the Independent had forced the Diamond Field to close, but with the Diamond Fields Advertiser then emerging as a third paper alongside the Diamond News and the Independent keeping local politicians on their toes in the turbulent years that followed.

During the Siege of Kimberley 1899-1900, the newspaper was the subject of a feud between Cecil Rhodes and garrison commander, Colonel Robert George Kekewich. The local newspaper, which was under Rhodes’ control, ignored the military censor and printed information that compromised the military. Kekewich obtained permission from Lord Roberts to place Rhodes under arrest if necessary.

Prominent journalists in Kimberley in the early years included R. W. Murray, and Frederick York St Leger, later founder of the Cape Times.

Sol Plaatje was a regular contributor to the DFA and had such respect for Fredrick St Leger that he named one of his sons after him – St Leger Plaatje, known as Sainty to his friends.

Editors of the DFA since that first issue:

1878 – 1884 Henry Tucker, secretary of the Kimberley mining board and one time Member of the Cape Parliament. 1884 – 1896 Robert Fisher Wilson, independent spirit and fearless writer. Went on to become editor of the Johannesburg Times. 1896 – 1898 Albert Cartwright. Went on to edit the SA News and the Johannesburg Times. 1898 – 1910 George AL Green, Rhodes’s ‘Prince of Journalists’. Went on to edit the Cape Argus, and father of Lawrence Green the writer 1910 – 1923 Frank Ireland 1923 – 1932 Henry Lissant Collins 1932 – 1938 George A Simpson. Was one of Sol Plaatje’s pallbearers at his funeral at the West End cemetery. 1938 – 1939 Hastings H Beck 1939 – 1942 A Harrington 1942 – 1949 Rex Hall. Later helped to establish South Africa’s Iron and Steel Corporation. 1949 – 1959 David Brechin 1959 – 1962 Archie Atkinson 1962 – 1967 Conrad Lighton 1967 – 1977 Mike Lloyd 1977 – 1984 Graham Etherington 1985 – 1991 Anthony Ball 1991 – 1992 Charles Guild (acting) 1992 – 2002 Kevin Ritchie 2002 – present Johan du Plessis.

(From Wikipedia with additions).

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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