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Gladstone Cemetery


UPDATED: 24/03/2020

24 March 1881, Orange River in flood, pont not working.
24 March 1883, Gladstone cemetery (pictured) opens.
24 March 1894, CW Jones of Kimberley wins the 100 yds in 10.1 secs to be Champion of South Africa.

The Gladstone cemetery on Kenilworth Road is not Kimberley’s oldest such, but does appear to boast the most historical and interesting graves of the town’s citizens. Older cemeteries in Kimberley are the Dutoitspan cemetery, the St Alban’s cemetery, the Pioneer cemetery, and the Greenpoint and Bultfontein cemeteries. The Gladstone cemetery closed in 1900 although over the years there have been subsequent burials, particularly in family plots.

Gladstone Cemetery

This is the cemetery where the Reverend John Mackenzie was interred before reburial in Kuruman; it is also the cemetery where many Nazareth House sisters are buried. The Anglo-Boer War, especially those who died in the siege and relief of Kimberley, is well represented with some well-known local luminaries including Henry Scott-Turner (son-in-law of Sir Lewis Michell), and George Labram (the designer of the Long Cecil gun). Stephanus Viviers, Boer burger who died from a lance wound in the Kimberley Hospital in February 1900, is the lone Boer casualty in the cemetery.

Walter Fletcher, young officer of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and the first British officer to die in the war is also one of the better-known soldiers buried within. Fergus Carstairs-Rogers, architect of the City Hall, is also buried there, as is Andrew Hudson Bain, the Bain of Bain’s Vlei outside Bloemfontein. Thomas Lane VC, one of few VC holders who forfeited their medal, and Alfred Schlemmer, the first ever player in the world to die from rugby injuries, are also among the souls buried therein.

The mass grave of those who died in the 11 July 1888 fire in the De Beers mine has a fine memorial stone commemorating the 202 deaths.

Other personalities buried in the Gladstone cemetery and who are reasonably well-known include JH Maclauchlin (of Church and Maclauchlin), Gordon Eugene Chatfield (Basuto war hero), Florence (Flora) Brown and her twin sister, and WH Connacott, killed in a train accident in 1896.

The wording on his headstone is worth mentioning:
No more he will stand on the engine,
No more he will steam into town.
He has shut off the steam forever,

He has gone to take up his crown.

There are many more buried there, far too many to record in this small space, and many are the tales to tell from their varied and interesting lives.

The cemetery, sadly, is in a state of disrepair, and many stones have been vandalised, but it is still worth a visit just to walk around reading the various her and his stories recorded on the headstones.

A word of caution however, is to rather go in a group solely for personal safety reasons.

Of course, visits as from 00h01 on Friday 27 March 2020 are not allowed whether you are alone or in a group. Lockdown.

24 March 1881, Orange River in flood, pont not working.
24 March 1883, Gladstone cemetery (pictured) opens.
24 March 1894, CW Jones of Kimberley wins the 100 yds in 10.1 secs to be Champion of South Africa.


In the early days of Beaconsfield and Kimberley when diamonds were first discovered in the area (between 1869 and 1871) the burials of those who died were not controlled by any municipal laws and graves were dotted all over and wherever.

The first official cemeteries were the Dutoitspan (whites, coloured and Indians) and the Bultfontein (Blacks) cemeteries. The Dutoitspan cemetery is dated from 1870 – the first internment – while Bultfontein would be from the same period.

Dutoitspan cemetery – also known by the erroneous title of “Chinese” cemetery – is now in a mining security area but up until the late 1990s was on the main approach to the Wesselton village. The reason why it was called the “Chinese” cemetery is that when people drove past they could see through a gap in the bushes that edged the burial region, several headstones lettered in Chinese writing. About five at most!

Within the cemetery are buried several prominent Kimberley personalities, including Neville Pickering, his brother William Pickering (DBCM secretary and director), Ethel Pickering (she who fired the first shell from Long Cecil), Lt-Colonel Thomas Peakman, EF Morris (the first member of the Diamond Fields Horse to be buried within), Henry Alfred Ward (the first owner of the Wesselton mine), the Magistrate Kearney Bradshaw (who died after his horse fell on him), and Dr Patrick Graham (one of the earliest medical practitioners).

Sister Henrietta Stockdale was interred here before reinternment at the Anglican Cathedral. Some of those who died during the siege of Kimberley are also buried here, while members of the Cape Corps who died from the Spanish ‘Flu in 1918 have their own special area.

Also within the boundaries of the cemetery are a walled Moslem section and an enclosed Jewish burial area.

The original Bultfontein cemetery for Africans can probably be dated to the same time span as the Dutoitspan cemetery. The original cemetery cannot be seen and is in fact under a football field in Greenpoint. The “modern” Bultfontein cemetery is now part of Greenpoint suburb and was originally on the gravel road to Bloemfontein. The new N8 bypassed this region completely.
Beaconsfield (named as such from 1883/4) but in 1869 known as the Dutoitspan and Bultfontein villages, is some 18 months older than Kimberley (De Beers and New Rush), Kimberley being named as such in 1873.

The very first cemetery in what is now Kimberley was very close to the De Beers mine and is situated under what is now St Alban’s Anglican church car parking area and the church hall. There are no records of those buried within. The Africans who died in the region were buried quite haphazardly in the region of Quinn’s Road, Lawrence Road, and Maude Street. These graves are still discovered from time to time.

The discovery of the Kimberley mine (New Rush/Colesberg Kopje) in July 1871 saw a “proper” cemetery being used, what is now called the Pioneer cemetery but at the time known by various titles including that of the Transvaal Road cemetery. This opened on or about 1 August 1871 and closed on 31 March 1905.

Black diggers and workers were also buried here – in the overgrown corner of the Pioneer cemetery used by the council as a refuse dumping area. There is also a special section known as the Jewish Pioneer cemetery. Despite being known as the Pioneer cemetery it is in fact the fourth of Kimberley’s cemeteries.

In approximately the same time-frame the Moslem cemetery on the Cape Town road was used. At the time several kilometres out of town it is today very close to the Horseshoe Motel and Spar supermarket.

The Pioneer cemetery being filled rather rapidly saw the new Gladstone cemetery being opened on 24 March 1883. The majority of those buried within are whites but it is of interest that the Catholic section did not discriminate. The Africans buried here are mostly buried to the east and the north of the “white” cemetery.

The Gladstone cemetery was originally known as the Kenilworth Road cemetery, a fact that has caused many problems for researchers today as the Kenilworth cemetery in the then mining village of De Beers Consolidated Mines opened for burials in 1890/91. Shortly thereafter the Kenilworth Road cemetery changed its title to Gladstone cemetery. Gladstone cemetery was officially closed (other than for family and religious plots) in March 1900.


George Labram’s Grave @ Gladstone Cemetery

The majority of those people killed or who died during the siege and relief of Kimberley are buried here, including Henry Scott-Turner and George Labram.

The closure of the Gladstone cemetery saw the opening of the West End cemetery, the last of Kimberley’s historic grave yards. This coincided with the closure of Gladstone cemetery with the earliest burials being March 1900. The majority of those who died in the Spanish ‘Flu epidemic of 1918 are buried within. This cemetery is still in use, but not for much longer.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Info from David Morris: 
What we have seen of the Quinn Street/Lawrence Street/Phakamile Mabija Road graves suggests to me not really haphazard but relatively orderly burial – certainly in terms of orientation in neat rows – although the archaeological evidence does indicate that many were relatively shallow, not penetrating much into the calcrete that lies beneath the red sand. It was the shallowness of these graves, in particular, that was cause for concern in a sanitary inspector’s report in 1879. My sense is that these were all part of a spread of graves extending north and northwestwards of (and being essentially part of) Pioneers Cemetery – the latter being the more visible part (formal headstones etc) which eventually got to be fenced and remembered. The large African burial ground then got to be built over by 1900 – erased from memory – but periodically has become apparent when residents have planted trees, or during building construction, or the laying of municipal or other infrastructure. An ideal open space locality for a memorial to these early migrant workers was lost when a large warehouse was built there a few years ago.

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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