31 March 1905, Pioneer cemetery closes officially.
31 March 1932, De Beers closes all their Kimberley mines as a result of the Depression.
31 March 1985, De Beers closes the popular Dog Show, a tourist attraction for over 30 years.
DID YOU KNOW
The Great worldwide Depression of 1932 arrived in Kimberley in March when all the diamond mines closed and over 50% of employees were deprived of a living. A special meeting of the Chamber of Commerce was called on 21 April 1932 to discuss the closure. The planned diamond cutting factory had opened in 1928 but could not get stones to cut, while there were plans for another cutting factory to open.
Kimberley’s first Voortrekker Commando began in 1933 with an initial strength of 120, while the first Afrikaans medium school, Diamantveld High, was established in January 1935. First known as the Afrikaans High School, it was initially housed in the Old Pupil Teachers Hostel in High School Road before moving into the Teachers Training College in 1940 where it is today. Despite the worldwide depression Kimberley was still moving forwards, albeit slowly.
1936 heralded the beginning of the end of the four year-long depression in Kimberley when Dutoitspan Mine was re-opened, with De Beers at this stage employing only 800 whites and 2000 black workers. At the re-opening of the mine Sir Ernest Oppenheimer advised the people of Kimberley to not live in a Fool’s Paradise in respect to the mines lasting forever. In the light of Sir Ernest’s remark, Chamber of Commerce President John Orr said that Kimberley should fight tooth and nail to get railway workshops, while also urging the Government to look at Kimberley as a munitions centre. The latter would become a reality during the war of 1939 – 1945.
The council too, attempted to play a part in weaning Kimberley away from diamonds, and they put forward a development plan for Kimberley’s future. As a start, they erected a new abattoir and chilling plant, and appointed the town’s very first traffic chief, a Mr David, in 1937. Traffic had really become a problem, what with the winding roads, and the 4000 cars registered in town were proving a handful. The first traffic lights (robots) were also placed, the chosen spot being the Post Office intersection by the Siege buildings.
“Kimberley was not designed as other cities. Indeed it was not premeditated at all, with the result obvious to all, that instead of the chequer board layout which lends itself to systematic control, we have a most amazing series of streets which curve, bisect, end, and turn in the most astonishing manner.”
DID YOU KNOW
It has so far been impossible to determine exactly when Green Point suburb was originally established.
The first question that should be asked is why the name Green Point was used?
The most probable explanation thus far is connected with the fact that Green Point was situated close to the first racecourse in Kimberley. Cape Town’s first racecourse was situated in the original Green Point suburb, 2.4 km from Cape Town. People moving from Cape Town to Kimberley and finding themselves living across from the racecourse could easily start calling their new home Green Point.
Green Point is situated on what was originally known as the Bultfontein farm. Diamonds were discovered on the farm in 1869 and by 15 November 1869 the Bultfontein mine was purchased by the partnership of Leopold Lilienfeld, Henry Barlow Webb and Louis Hond. Their partnership, the Hopetown Company, later became the London and South African Exploration Company. It is clear that along with the white diggers, Blacks would have settled in this area in search of work on the mines or for trade purposes. At this stage there was no designated living areas for Blacks and they could settle where ever they desired. These areas were at first known as Native camps but by the late 1870s became known as locations. The London and SA Exploration Company was in control of any locations on their property. In 1883 after the establishment of the Beaconsfield Town Council, day to day running of the locations was transferred to the town council.
In October 1876 a notice appeared in the Diamond News whereby the London and South African Exploration Company allocated burial spots on the farms Alexandersfontein, Du Toitspan and Bultfontein. Applications for the African cemetery at Bultfontein had to be made to Mr John Zuma and Mr James Poote.
In 1879 there were six locations/villages on the Government estate (Vooruitzicht) and two on the Company estate (Bultfontein). The two locations on the Bultfontein estate were near the Racecourse and were known as Poote’s, named after James Poote an Independent Minister, and Zuma’s, named after John Zuma, a Wesleyan evangelist.
The adoption of an official policy of ‘localising natives’ by mid-1879 meant the end of informal segregation by choice. Location regulations were published in September of 1880 whereby a location was defined as: “any number of huts or dwellings exceeding five within an area of one square mile occupied by any of the native races….in case such huts or dwellings shall be situated on land which is private property, not being in the bona fide and continuous employment of the owner of such land either as his domestic servants or in or about the farming operations, or any trade, business or handicraft by him carried upon such land”. By 1888 no location had been proclaimed on Company property.
The 1888 Valuation Report for the Beaconsfield Town Council listed 4 Black settlements in the Beaconsfield area: Magazine Camp off Boshof Road, Pootes and Umbongives in Bultfontein and the Racecourse location.
Mention is specifically made of a location with the name Green Point in the Beaconsfield Town council special meeting held on 25 July 1898.
In 1899 the De Beers Consolidated Mines acquired the property of the London and South Africa Exploration Company that included several locations. De Beers decided to move all the locations to one place, the area between Beaconsfield town and the Racecourse, and to construct proper buildings for the inhabitants.
After Kimberley and Beaconsfield municipalities merged on 02 December 1912 the Kimberley City Council, according to Municipal Regulations, became responsible for the administration of the Green Point location, the site of which was the property of De Beers Consolidated Mines. An arrangement was made between the landlord company and the Kimberley City Council and from the 1 July 1913 the council assumed full control of the administration of the location.
The photograph is Greenpoint under flood in November 2014.