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TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY – 06 DECEMBER

UPDATED: 06/12/2023

6 December 1890, First golf competition at the Kimberley Golf Club.
6 December 1890, Dr JE Mackenzie sets the golf course record of 98.
6 December 1950, GW defeat the national SA Jukskei team 9½ – 5½.
6 December 1952, The William Humphreys Art Gallery opened by Harry Oppenheimer.

The Kimberley Golf Club

The affluent suburb of Monument Heights is where the Kimberley Golf Club (KGC) had its humble beginnings in 1890.

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The original Kimberley Golf Course Club House and the 1st and 18th holes, as well as the area surrounding the Honoured Dead Memorial.

The very first clubhouse was a disused laundry and in time a new clubhouse was built near the Honoured Dead Memorial, at what is now the MOTH Centre.

The pioneers of golf in Kimberley were David Skirving (first club captain) and Stephen Stokes (honorary secretary) who approached John Blades Currey of the London and South African Exploration Company to ask for land for this purpose.

The company owned most of the property in the area and Currey gladly conceded that the links be constructed between the Halfway House and the race course (opposite the current Diamond Pavilion).

A committee was formed even before the first meeting was held in the Queens Hotel, with Currey serving as president of the club until he left Kimberley. The fairways and greens were not as lush as those at St Andrews, but served the purpose. The fairways were cleared of bushes and the greens were actually browns, consisting of sand. Later the greens became “blues” as washed kimberlite gravel was utilized.

It was decided early on that juniors would play at half price and women were allowed to play free of charge, but were not allowed to play on Wednesdays, Saturdays or match days.

In 1892 Kimberley hosted the South African and International Exhibition and KGC was encouraged to organise a golf championship which included players from across the country. In 1897 Cecil John Rhodes presented a trophy to the club and the annual competition for the Rhodes Challenge continues to this day.

Grass was never an option because of the climate and scarcity of water, until it was decided in 1912 to plant patches of grass on the course, but it was only in selected areas that the grass was to be seen.

In 1907 it became clear that the KGC needed a larger clubhouse, £650 had been pledged by members and £350 by De Beers. Daniel W. Greatbatch designed the structure free of charge and the contractors were Harris and Sanderson who completed the task for the price of £963. It was officially opened by C.E. Nind on 1 January 1908 and consisted of a large hall, ladies room, tearoom, lavatory, store room, professionals work room, kitchen and caretakers living room.

The Women’s Golf Club was also founded in 1908 and they had their own nine-hole course which linked up to the bottom end of the regular course. In October 1920, the Women’s Golf Club amalgamated with the KGC and formed the Women’s section.

After the game of dominoes was introduced, it became very popular and eventually went hand in hand with golf. Players would spend the day on the links and the evening at the Queen’s Hotel to play dominoes. It was said that “a golfer’s invitation to join a four ball rested to a large extent on that golfer’s ability to play dominoes”. It became so popular that an extra room was added to the clubhouse to accommodate players.

The KGC in 1951 began looking at the idea of establishing a golf course with grass-covered fairways and greens. The clubhouse on the new 220 acre site was designed by Cliff Timlin and work on the course began in 1958. The course was designed by golf architect Robert Grimsdell, a Delville Wood survivor.

The last competition was played on the old course on 10 April 1960 before the club officially moved to the current course.

(Story from the Noordkaap Koerant, with a few additions).

Aerial photograph of 1932 shows the original Kimberley golf course club house and the 1st and 18th holes, as well as the area surrounding the Honoured Dead Memorial. One can see the new Bishop’s Hostel as well as the old Bishop’s Hostel directly behind it.

6 December 1890, First golf competition at the Kimberley Golf Club.
6 December 1890, Dr JE Mackenzie sets the golf course record of 98.
6 December 1952, The William Humphreys Art Gallery opened by Harry Oppenheimer.

ART GALLERY OPENED 69 YEARS AGO TODAY
Mr Harry Oppenheimer opened, or laid many foundation stones of, many buildings in Kimberley and the Northern Cape. One of the most illustrious of these, apart from “Harry Oppenheimer House”, is the (formerly) highest graded art museum in South Africa, the William Humphreys Art Gallery, which was officially opened by Harry Oppenheimer on 6 December 1952 in the new Kimberley Civic Centre area.

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Harry Oppenheimer

He opened the building after receiving the key to the main door from the architect Mr Cliffie Timlin.

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Inside the William Humphreys Art Gallery

“In establishing this gallery, not only do we have to thank Mr [William] Humphreys for his generosity, but for the beauty and culture that he has brought to Kimberley and to the Northern Cape”, said Mr Oppenheimer. “We want to make comparisons between other countries and also other centuries. In this gallery, we will have this opportunity.”

Mr Oppenheimer continued, saying it was important that there should be a gallery of this sort. In the field of art, South Africa was somewhat isolated from the rest of the world, and Kimberley was isolated in South Africa. It was therefore important that the gallery be looked after, and he hoped that the people of Kimberley would take it to their hearts and increase the popularity and scope of the building.

BRIEF HISTORY OF THE “WHAG”
(Below from the website of the William Humphreys Art Gallery, with some minor changes)

The history of the art gallery and its collection, may be traced back to well before 1952 when the art gallery first opened its doors to the public. Kimberley was fortunate in having, even in its early days, men with foresight and an appreciation of things other than the purely material. The history of the city’s cultural organisations in the early years of the 20th century was the Kimberley Athenaeum, formed to promote all aspects of culture in a town which was geographically divorced from the main stream of the South African cultural activity.

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William Humphreys

The art section of the Kimberley Athenaeum was particularly active. Under the chairmanship of Mr William Timlin, assisted by the secretary, Mr Arthur Pett, the idea was conceived of collecting South African works of art which, which it was hoped, would one day grace the walls of an art gallery in Kimberley. Over a period of almost forty years this collection, which included the work of such pioneers of South African paintings as Frans Oerder, Pieter Wenning, J.H Pierneef, Nita Spilhaus, Clement Sénèque, and William Timlin himself, was brought together. When the Kimberley Athenaeum was disbanded in 1940s the collection of artworks was given in trust to the Kimberley City Council and eventually found a permanent home in the art gallery of which these two men had dreamed so many years before.

The second collection to find a home in the art gallery was that bequeathed to the city by Dr Max Greenberg, a Johannesburg physician who had been educated at Christian Brothers’ College in Kimberley. This collection, which comprised 55 works of art, included paintings by Pieter Wenning, Frans Oerder, J.H Pierneef, and Gregoire Boonzaier, and four bronzes by Anton van Wouw and one by Moses Kottler. Held in trust for the city by the Kimberley City Council, these were initialy displayed in the Kimberley Public Library until, on completion of the art gallery building, they were permanently housed there. Some years later, trusteeship of the collection was formally transferred to the Art Gallery Council.

The last and most magnificent collection in the art gallery was that given by Mr William Benbow Humphreys, then Member of Parliament for Kimberley. The deed of donation was signed on 15 October1948 by William Humphreys and the president and the secretary of the Northern Cape Technical College states that William Humphreys in consideration of his long association with the public life of the Northern Cape and his desire to further the interests of he said region gave to the college pictures and other works of art which were selected from his private collection by Mr P Anton Hendricks, then director of the Johannesburg Art Gallery. With this gift, which comprised painting by Flemish and Dutch masters of the 16th and 17th centuries, paintings by English and French painters as well as pieces of antique furniture and other objets d’art, was an undertaking by Mr Humphreys to contribute a sum of £5000 which would be paid to the college when required for the construction of a suitable gallery to house the collection.

This donation was a paramount importance because of its composition and because the gift was coupled with the condition that a suitable building be constructed to accommodate the collection. This put the onus on a recognized, established, and government-funded body to bring such a project to fruition. Had this not been so, it is likely that the Humphreys Bequest would have continued to hang indefinitely on the walls of the Northern Cape Technical Collage.

In addition to these large collections, many excellent works of art have been donated to the art gallery over the years.

The art gallery, although an appendage of the Northern Cape Technical College, was run independently by its own committee with Mr Humphreys at the helm of affairs in his capacity as chairman of the Art Gallery Committee. In the absence of professional ad clerical staff, he managed the gallery with the help of his son Basil, sub-committees to attend to such matters as finance, the acquisition of works of art and temporary exhibitions, as well as many enthusiastic and able volunteers.

So keen an interest did William Humphreys take in the development of “his” art gallery that he frequently brought from his home in Carrington Road additional works of art to fill gaps and enhance the collection already there. Eventually this large collection, similar in composition to the bequest, became known as the Humphreys Loan Collection and added to the stature of the gallery.

On his death in July 1965, the loan collection was, with the concurrence of his brother and sisters, bought from William Humphreys’ estate by Basil Humphreys and given to his son Anthony to ensure that it would be retained in Kimberley. During this period, it was known as the Anthony Humphreys Loan Collection. Some five years after Basil’s death in 1971, the art gallery was again in danger of losing the collection when it was offered for sale. Neither the institution nor the Department of National Education had funds available to purchase it and an approach was made to De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd to come to the aid of the art gallery.

With customary generosity, they bought the collection and in 1977 an agreement was signed by the company and the Art Gallery Council wherein it was agreed that, subject to certain conditions, these works of art would be lent to the gallery for an indefinite period and would be known as the Humphreys Collection on loan from De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd.

This then, was the nucleus and the solid foundation upon which successive Art Gallery Councils have been able to expand and consolidate the collections, with the emphasis being placed on the acquisition of South Africa works of art.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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