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De Beers Stockdale Street Head Office

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 28 MAY

28 MAY 1895, The De Beers billiard rooms open on Warren Street.
28 MAY 1924, A bomb explodes during an aerial show at Kuruman, killing four.
28 MAY 1948, The NP win the elections.

DID YOU KNOW

De Beers Consolidated Mines has had two Head Offices in Kimberley – the first on Warren Street known today as the De Beers Mining Company Boardroom, and the other on Stockdale Street.

PT-De_Beers_Mining_Company_Boardroom-1893

De Beers Warren Street Head Office

The original De Beers Mining Company offices on Warren Street were opposite the Boardroom, this building being erected during the period 1886/1887. The then secretary of De Beers, H.I. Feltham, called for building tenders to be in by August 1886, and building started shortly thereafter. It was designed by the architects, Stent and Hallach, and built by the local firm Church and MacLauchlin, opening for business in 1887.

It was within these walls that the signing of the great amalgamation took place in 1888, and the building remained the Head Office of the De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited until November 1889. In 1888 the Great Mine (Fire) Disaster rescue work was co-ordinated from within these walls by the General Manager, Gardner Williams.

In 1895 it became the De Beers Mine Recreation Rooms, the word “Reading” being added later. The Billiard rooms adjacent to the Boardroom were opened 28 May 1895. In 1964 the Reading Rooms were closed as it was planned to make a museum to the memory of Cecil Rhodes. Despite the planning, this idea did not materialize.

The Stockdale Street building was the original Head Office for Barney Barnato’s Kimberley Central Diamond Mining Company, and from November 1889 the building became the Head Office for the amalgamated diamond-mining company – De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited. During the time frame March 1888 until November 1889 the building was converted from a single storey building to a double storeyed.

The building, through extensions over the years, reached Southey Street by 1914.

Pictured are the two Head Offices, the original on Warren Street, and the Stockdale Street building circa 1893.

28 MAY 1895, The De Beers billiard rooms open on Warren Street.
28 MAY 1924, A bomb explodes during an aerial show at Kuruman, killing four.

DID YOU KNOW

Six people died in Kuruman after a bomb was accidentally dropped on the crowd during a military “bombing display” in 1924.

Several sources say it was a semi-political rally by the SA Party, others say it was a farewell function for a local military man. Whatever the truth, there was an election later that same year, and the SA Party lost their seat in Kuruman as the public believed the rumour that the bomb had been dropped deliberately.

At the enquiry, the pilot of the DH9 bomber, Lt PS Joubert, was exonerated of liability on charges of manslaughter, although he did resign from the fledgling SA Air Force because of the tragedy.

Grave stones of persons who were killed when the bomb exploded at the air show.

Grave stones of persons who were killed when the bomb exploded at the air show.

There were supposed to be two DH9’s taking part in the display but at a forced landing on the way to Kuruman – somewhere between Postmasburg and Olifantshoek – one of the planes was too damaged to continue. Unbeknown to Lt Joubert, his aeroplane was also damaged during the forced landing. There had been some damage to the bomb rack which would have fatal consequences later in the day.

During the display five of the six bombs were dropped on the target about 620 metres from the crowd but one bomb had stuck due to damage to the bomb rack.

As the aeroplane flew over the crowd this 20 pound bomb came unstuck, fell, and landed among the spectators. Three died instantly and three from their wounds. Casper (54) and his wife Anna van der Walt (52) as well as Gert Erlank (39) were killed instantly.

Christina Alida Claassens (8) died of her wounds during the night. She was the daughter of Matthys and Lila Claassens.

Piet van der Linde (21) and Abraham Erasmus died of their wounds at Kimberley Hospital, van der Linde within days while Erasmus died 13 days later and had a semi-military funeral. His eldest daughter, Catharina, was hit in the head with shrapnel, which was not removed.

There were at least 33 others wounded in the tragedy.

A distraught Lt Joubert had to be protected from the crowd and for his own safety was kept in the Kuruman prison overnight.

Pictured are the headstones of the three persons who were killed instantly when the bomb exploded at the air show. They are within the Kuruman cemetery.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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