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UPDATED: 10 January 2023

10 January 1884, Dynamite explosion kills two miners at the De Beers Mine.
10 January 1887, Irvine Grimmer takes 16 wickets for 83 runs for Strayklips vs WP CC.

Some snippets from the Queenstown Free Press

QFP: Tuesday April 17, 1888

The Kimberley papers announce the death under somewhat mysterious circumstances of Miss Susan Gunn, aged 24, and daughter of Mr J. Gunn, of Port Elizabeth. Deceased was employed at Messrs. Hazell & Balland’s shop, and resided next door to the Circus in Dutoitspan Road. She complained of being unwell, and had been attended by Drs Hillier and Jameson. On Tuesday morning last she died, and as bottles labelled “Poison” were found in her room an inquest is to be held.

QFP: Tuesday August 21, 1888

The Advertiser says: On Monday afternoon a shocking fatality occurred at Taylor’s Kopje, by which a white man named William Hodgson, and a native, lost their lives by being poisoned with the fumes of dynamite. They were employed in a shaft which is being sunk at the Kopje, and had been engaged in blasting operations. It appears that both the men were got out of the mine alive, and Dr. Gill was immediately summoned from Kimberley. The doctor reached Taylor’s Kopje about one o’clock the following morning, but by that time the two unfortunate men were past hope of recovery. Poor Hodgson succumbed about two o’clock a.m. Tuesday, and the native lingered on till six o’clock. Two other natives who were with the deceased at the time, are suffering from the effects of the dynamite fumes, and are, we are informed, in a very precarious condition.

QFP: Friday, January 24, 1890

About a quarter to four o’clock yesterday morning (writes the D.F. Advertiser of the 15th instant) Mr. Pentland, who resided in Upper Jones St., was awakened by hearing sounds as of a child crying on the verandah. Presently he called to Mr. Nicholls, an inmate of the house, who, going on to the verandah, found an infant lying in one of the chairs there. An examination revealed the fact that the little one – a European male – could not be more than a month or six weeks old, and there were also sad evidences that it had been very imperfectly cared for. Pinned to one of the dirty garments was a note, without any signature, which reads somewhat as follows: “Whosoever takes this child, please be good to it, for its mother’s sake: and God will bless you.” The strange discovery was immediately reported to the police, Mrs. Pentland meanwhile doing all a mother could think of to comfort the little thing.

UPDATED: 10 January 2022

10 January 1884, Dynamite explosion kills two miners at the De Beers Mine.
10 January 1887, Irvine Grimmer (pictured) takes 16 wickets for 83 runs for Strayklips vs WP CC.

Irvine Grimmer – a great sportsman
Irvine Grimmer is not a well-known name in Kimberley sporting circles, but it should be, especially to those who play the games of cricket, golf and billiards!


Irvine Grimmer

Irvine Rowell Grimmer was born in Colesberg, Cape Colony, on 7 July 1862, the eldest of eleven children of Dr William and Mrs Jean Grimmer (nee Patterson), early Kimberley pioneers. One of his younger brothers, Johnnie (also known as Jack) was Cecil Rhodes’ personal secretary for many years.

The family trekked to Kimberley in 1872 in wagons, outspanning first at Alexandersfontein and later at what is now known as Newton Park. While at Alexandersfontein Irvine and his younger brother Willie walked to Bultfontein mine and witnessed a stirring sight he would never forget – the sight of hundreds of diggers at work deep in the pit.

Another younger brother was Johnnie Grimmer, close friend and confidante of Cecil Rhodes.

As the city and family settled down, the family moved into a wooden three-bedroomed house on Market Square and then later to a brick house in the grounds of the present Kimberley hospital. He was educated out of Kimberley at the Lovedale Missionary Institute near Alice, a good school that produced more than its fair share of outstanding citizens.

On 1 February 1884 Irvine started work with the “old” De Beers Mining Company in Warren Street as a clerk, and by March 1897 was the Assistant Company Secretary of De Beers Consolidated Mines. This post he relinquished in November 1905 when he was appointed the assistant General Manager, eventually retiring in that position in October 1932.


Irvine Grimmer Tombstone

During the siege of Kimberley he was a Divisional Commander of the Kimberley Town Guard, being stationed at the Kimberley Mine Redoubt Number 1, and being mentioned in the despatches of Lt-Colonel Kekewich for his good work. By 1948 he was considered an authority on the history of Kimberley.

In every line of sport he was brilliant, but his three great loves were cricket, golf and billiards, his cricketing feats being legendary on the diamond fields. He was a hard hitting batsman, a good slip fielder and an exceptionally good bowler. He was the first bowler in South Africa to demonstrate the possibility of making a ball turn on hard ground, and his mastering of the overarm “off-break” set a new technique which was soon followed by bowlers all over the country. For a couple of seasons he was unplayable.

A founder member of the Eclectic Cricket Club, he also played for the Stray Klips, a touring team from Kimberley. In one match he had the extraordinary match figures of 16 wickets for 83 runs. He was a Griqua cricket stalwart for years and held many records, but his heyday was in the 1880s before the Currie Cup made its entrance to national cricket.

Grimmer was the Kimberley Golf Club captain on six occasions between 1902 and 1916, President from 1920 to 1922 and again from 1933 to 1947. He was the club champion in 1897 and 1903 and runner-up on no less than five occasions. He won the Rhodes Challenge Trophy three times, the Thal Cup twice and the Nind Cup once. At national level too, he was no slouch, winning the SA Foursomes in 1913 with Dr May and in 1903 won the East London (Easter Championship) scratch competition, coming fifth in the SA Amateur the same year.

He held the Kimberley course record thrice, shooting 77 in 1897, 74 in 1905, and a magnificent 71 in 1907, all this with inferior golfing equipment and balls. And it was on the blue chip gravel greens, not the lush greens of today’s world.

He was a more than able administrator, and apart from serving on the committee for 44 years he had the notable distinction of ensuring the smooth running of the SA Championships held in Kimberley in 1907 and 1913. In 1939 he was elected a Life Member of the golf club.

In billiards he was the Kimberley champion on numerous occasions.

Irvine Grimmer died in Muizenberg on 5 April 1951 leaving his wife Edith Jean (nee Eckard) to mourn his passing. There were no children born to the union.

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