Latest News
Amphibic Design - Websites - Graphibic Design


UPDATED: 26/10/2021

26 OCTOBER 1888, Nazareth House opens on Dutoitspan Road.
26 OCTOBER  1892, SA rugby player Harry Boyes dies tragically.
26 OCTOBER  1897, Theatre Royal opens in Kimberley on Dutoitspan Road.
26 OCTOBER  1941, The altar of the re-built St Mary’s Cathedral consecrated.

Reverend O’Reilly blesses Nazareth House

NNazareth Home Kimberleyazareth House was originally established in 1864 in Hammersmith, London by Mother St Basil, to take care of the homeless, those who had no other place of refuge.

Five sisters arrived in Cape Town on 11 October 1888 and came straight to Kimberley to establish a Nazareth House on the diggings. Half an acre of land was given by the London and South African Exploration Company and construction started on the building.

The first room to be completed was fitted as a dormitory and the second room to be completed became the chapel. The altar and other essentials needed for Holy Mass were brought from England.

On 26 October the house was blessed by Reverend R O’Reilly and the first residents arrived on 1 November 1888. Initially there was no kitchen and food was cooked on an open fire. The sisters later had a “Dutch oven” and “bake house” built so that they could make their own bread and thus save money.
The house soon became too small and in 1892 construction began on the left wing of the main building. Within one year after the opening of this building, there were 43 children living at Nazareth House and by the end of 1895, there were 130.

The construction on the new chapel began in 1894 with a message from Bishop Gaughren placed in a bottle under the cornerstone, the chapel being dedicated on 5 October 1895.

During the Siege of Kimberley, Nazareth House raised the ambulance flag in the hope that it may escape shelling. It did not, however. Although nobody was injured, the community room was hit by shrapnel.


Sisters of Nazareth from 1889

During the war, the sick and wounded were nursed at Nazareth House.

In 1918 the Spanish flu epidemic killed nearly 5000 people in Kimberley and although Nazareth House was affected, they suffered no deaths.

Nazareth House was known through the years as a home for the aged, poor, incurable and orphan children. The children’s section of the home was closed in approximately 1976 and later served only as a home for the aged. Nazareth House closed its doors in December 2001 and is currently being used as a boarding facility by CBC St Patrick’s. (All above mostly from Anneke du Toit/Noordkaap).

Sister's transport, the "Black Maria"

The Sister’s transport, the “Black Maria”

Some memories of Kimberley from Msgr. Vincent Hill:

Nazareth House in Kimberley used to operate a mule-coach for transporting the Sisters around the town, or for errands like going to the railway station to fetch the milk cans despatched from the farm at Fourteen Streams. It was almost square in shape, and covered in black canvas. Entry was through a door at the rear. There was no window except in the door itself. There were two vertical steps down. It resembled the police vans in use in many countries, so my dad used to call it the “black Maria”. It was replaced by a small panel-van sometime around 1953.

If the Sisters came to our house, it was presumably to make arrangements with my mother for the party for children making their First Holy Communion. Mom made this her personal responsibility every year, baking and icing cakes and cookies. We often had to help making fudge or pulling toffee sticks. She also made the ice-cream in a special barrel-shaped “machine”, crushed ice and salt were packed round the inner cylinder. There was an attachment for stirring the custard mixture, to make it smooth and prevent it from freezing into icicles. Sometimes I was sent to fetch the half-block of ice from the Cold Storage, carrying it in a sack balanced on my bicycle handle-bars.

Nazareth House Fête was an annual event in Kimberley, on the last week-end of November. Invariably it rained heavily, and had to be postponed for a week. I remember boxing exhibitions, drill displays and the usual games of skill or chance. The “Crown and Anchor” table was strictly illegal, which the police tried to ignore unless somebody made a fuss. Then they would close it down and somebody would pay the fine. My Sisters were members of the Children of Mary Sodality, which sponsored the sale of fudge. We all got roped in to collect, design and decorate boxes to hold the goodies, and spent hours stirring the condensed milk to the right consistency. The smell of caramel clung to our hair for a week.

Legends handed down from my mother:

During the Boer War, Kimberley was besieged, but eventually was relieved by a column of cavalry under General French. The children and Sisters joined the crowd lining the streets watching the triumphant parade. One young Sister grew pale and turned away. She had recognised one of the officers as the beau she had refused, in order to join the convent.

One week-end early in the First World War, there was a riot of drunken miners in the streets of Kimberley, threatening the offices and homes of all who were “German”. This included Ernest Oppenheimer and his family, who were offered shelter in Nazareth House. According to my mother, this was why Sir Ernest was a generous benefactor always.

My mother was at 6.30 Mass every morning at Nazareth House chapel in Kimberley. We children would join her occasionally, if there were exams coming up. The nuns were in a transept to the right of the sanctuary. The Nazareth boys and girls occupied the central space. The Christian Brothers also came across the road sometimes, and knelt underneath the choir loft. Old people in the left side aisle, and we were usually to the right.

Pics posted include the Sister’s transport, the “Black Maria”.

UPDATED: 26/10/2018

26 OCTOBER 1888, Nazareth House opens on Dutoitspan Road.
26 OCTOBER  1892, SA rugby player Harry Boyes dies tragically.
26 OCTOBER  1897, Theatre Royal opens in Kimberley on Dutoitspan Road.
26 OCTOBER  1941, The altar of the re-built St Mary’s Cathedral consecrated.

Pictured is Harry Boyes, as well as the very first South African rugby team in 1891 from where the photograph was lifted.


Harry Churchill Boyes died suddenly and in unusual circumstances at 21h30 on Wednesday 26 October 1892 while riding the “switchback railway” that was one of the many attractions at the Kimberley International Exhibition. (The railway switchback is similar to a roller coaster).


SA Rugby Player, Harry Boyes

Harry was born in Cape Town on 12 March 1868 to James Fichat Boyes and Johanna Olivia Boyes (nee Chiappini), the youngest of three sons born to the union, his elder brothers being George James Boyes and Charles Edward Boyes. George, who had worked for a time in Kimberley, was Resident Magistrate of Mafeking from 1892 to 1897.

His father’s brother, Lorenzo Boyes, was the Magistrate at Colesberg who had examined the “Eureka” diamond discovered in the Hopetown area in 1866/1867.

Harry was educated at firstly, the Diocesan College (Bishops), and secondly, where he matriculated, at St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown. A keen and speedy athlete, he played wing and centre at rugby, a sport he continued when he moved to Kimberley to work in the offices of the Inspector of Mines. At the time of his death he was employed with the Detective Department.

In Kimberley, he played for the Kimberley Rugby Football Club, and for Griqualand West, being a member of the XV that were awarded the Currie Cup in 1891. He also represented the Cape Colony against the British Isles as a centre, and it was his excellent performance on attack and defence in this game that saw him being selected at wing for the South African team for the first and second tests against the visitors that same year.


First South African Rugby Team – 1891

His last game for Griqualand West was in the Currie Cup tournament played just prior to his death as part of the International Exhibition.

Harry had ridden the “switchback” several times that evening, and like many others, stood up and waved his arms even when the car was travelling at full speed.

“The car had started on its return journey, and was in the act of running down the second incline, when Mr Boyes lost his balance, and, it is presumed, fell backwards and dropped violently on the ground, breaking his neck by the fall, and also sustaining a severe blow on the skull.”

Death was instantaneous, and his body removed to the Police Station by Police Constable Sheehan and then to the Hospital after an examination by Dr Smith. The Switchback was immediately shut down on police orders until further notice. At the time of the tragedy 15 619 people had been on the ride.

Boyes’ funeral service was conducted by the Venerable Archdeacon Gaul on Friday 28th October at the Hospital Chapel (Sister Henrietta’s Chapel) from whence the cortege moved to the Dutoitspan cemetery where he was buried. There were several hundred mourners, at least 60 young men walking with the bier, and some 30 vehicles with mourners following. Many others were waiting at the cemetery. The family were represented by Dr Green and his brother, cousins of Harry Boyes.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


Check Also


UPDATED: 29/07/2022 29 July 1878, A 201 carat diamond, a perfect octahedron, ...


UPDATED: 28 July 2022 28 July 2016, Kimberley artist Jill Adams dies. ...