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Today in Kimberley's History

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 13 AUGUST

UPDATED: 13/08/2019

13 August 1924, Marthinus Kruger dies after a rugby injury during practice.

DID YOU KNOW

The Gladstone cemetery on Kenilworth Road is not Kimberley’s oldest such, but does appear to boast the most historical and interesting graves of the town’s citizens. Older cemeteries in Kimberley are the Dutoitspan cemetery, the St Alban’s cemetery, the Pioneer cemetery, and the Greenpoint and Bultfontein cemeteries. The Gladstone cemetery closed in 1900 although over the years there have been subsequent burials, particularly in family plots.

This is the cemetery where the Reverend John Mackenzie was interred before reburial in Kuruman; it is also the cemetery where many Nazareth House sisters are buried.

The Anglo-Boer War, especially those who died in the siege and relief of Kimberley, is well represented with some well-known local luminaries including Henry Scott-Turner (son-in-law of Sir Lewis Michell), and George Labram (the designer of the Long Cecil gun). Stephanus Viviers, Boer burgher who died from a lance wound in February 1900, is the lone Boer casualty in the cemetery. Walter Fletcher, young officer of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and the first British officer to die in the war is also one of the better-known soldiers buried within. Fergus Carstairs-Rogers, architect of the City Hall, is also buried there, as is Andrew Hudson Bain, the Bain of Bain’s Vlei outside Bloemfontein. Thomas Lane VC, one of few VC holders who forfeited their medal, and Alfred Schlemmer, the first ever player in the world to die from rugby injuries, are also there.

The mass grave of those who died in the July 1888 fire in the De Beers mine has a fine memorial stone commemorating the 202 deaths.

Other personalities buried in the Gladstone cemetery and who are reasonably well-known include JH Maclauchlin (of Church and Maclauchlin), Gordon Eugene Chatfield (Basuto war hero), Florence (Flora) Brown and her twin sister, and WH Connacott, killed in a train accident in 1896. The wording on his headstone is worth mentioning:

No more he will stand on the engine,

No more he will steam into town.

He has shut off the steam forever,

He has gone to take up his crown.

There are many more buried there, far too many to record in this small space, and many are the tales to tell from their varied and interesting lives.

The cemetery, sadly, is in a state of disrepair, and many stones have been vandalised, but it is still worth a visit just to walk around reading the various her and his stories recorded on the headstones. A word of caution however, is to rather go in a group solely for personal safety reasons.

UPDATED: 13/08/2018

13 August 1924, Marthinus Kruger dies after a rugby injury during practice.

DID YOU KNOW

1936 heralded the beginning of the end of the four year-long depression in Kimberley when Dutoitspan Mine was 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. 
Said Chamber President John Orr: “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.”

The Duggan-Cronin Gallery opened in 1937. A radio relay station that opened in Kimberley on August 1 1939 was another initiative by the town council.

13 August 1924, Marthinus Kruger dies after a rugby injury during practice.

DID YOU KNOW

John Turner, (pictured), who was a Life member of the Kenilworth Bowling Club in Kimberley, was born in Wigan, Lancashire, England in 1879.

PT-John_Turner-1879

John Turner

A Fitter by trade, he arrived in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 and worked at the Wanderer and the Globe and Phoenix Mines in Rhodesia before coming to De Beers Consolidated Mines in Kimberley in 1904.

This was but a brief sojourn as he left the same year, working at Village Main Reef on the Witwatersrand before again going to Rhodesia.

After a leave period in England he moved to the Gold Coast where he worked on the Abosso Mine. He then returned to Kimberley and employment with De Beers in 1912 until his retirement in 1948 as Superintendent of the DBCM Workshops.

He died in Kimberley in December 1966, having stayed in the same house in Kenilworth for some 53 years.

During World War 1 he served with the SAEC in German SWA.

A keen bowler, he was a member of the Kenilworth Bowling Club for 30 years and was Club Champion twice.

He married his wife in 1914, and they had one son, Ernest, a grandson, John, and a granddaughter, Mrs P Crowe of Sevenoaks, Natal.

(Sources: News from the Mines November 1957 and January 1967)

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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