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Kimberley Club

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 14 AUGUST

UPDATED: 14/08/2019

14 August 1882, Kimberley Club (pictured) opens for business.
14 August 1886, Alfred Schlemmer is the first rugby player in the world to die from injuries sustained on the field of play.
14 August 1914, The Kimberley Mine (Big Hole) ceases mining operations.

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Kimberley Club Interior

DID YOU KNOW

The history of the Kimberley Club is intrinsically bound with the history of Kimberley , and it has always been said that Kimberley is De Beers and De Beers is Rhodes. Well, the Club can be added to that statement as since its foundation in 1881 it has been the focal point of not only the social history of the city of Kimberley, but also a focal point in the development, culturally, socially, historically and in business, of South Africa itself.

As Sir Ernest Oppenheimer once said, “…it has a tradition all on its own. The memory of the men who made a new and greater South Africa is enshrined in this building.” His equally famous son, the late Harry O, indeed, added to the statement by saying that “…future members will value it for what it is – a unique institution with a truly absorbing past.”

The Kimberley Club was founded in August 1881, although there had been an initial meeting to discuss the formation in May that year. Leading men of Kimberley wanted a meeting place along the lines of the exclusive gentleman London clubs where they could enjoy a drink or two, good food and the company of their peers, in comfort, away from the dust and dryness of the diggings. Cecil John Rhodes was the prime mover in the founding of the Club, while some of the original members included not only Rhodes but Charles Rudd, Dr Leander Starr Jameson, and mining magnates JB Robinson and Lionel Phillips. Needless to say, it was the men of the diamond industry who predominated when the Club opened its doors on 14 August 1882.

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Kimberley Club Interior

A visitor once said that “…the place was stuffed with money – more millionaires to the square foot than any other place in the world.”

The members were all young, ambitious and adventurous. Rhodes himself was only 28 at the time of the founding of the club. Within the precincts of this building was discussed, and quite possibly formulated, the plans to amalgamate the diamond industry in Kimberley, South Africa and the world; the ill-fated Jameson raid of 1895/1896; the defence of Kimberley of 1899/1900; and the relief of Mafeking in May 1900. It was on the verandah of the club that Rhodes worked on plans and ideas to colonize the land north of the Limpopo, and it was at the Club that Frank Johnson presented his final report to Rhodes for the pioneer column that settled what is now Zimbabwe.

The molten-lead arrow on the entrance pathway in the main door of the club was placed there in 1889 to point true north, as Rhodes’ sense of direction failed him on occasion. The arrow is still there.

UPDATED: 14/08/2017

14 August 1882, Kimberley Club opens for business.
14 August 1886, Alfred Schlemmer is the first rugby player in the world to die from injuries sustained on the field of play.
14 August 1914, The Kimberley Mine (Big Hole) ceases mining operations.

DID YOU KNOW

A tragic world first for Kimberley. Alfred Schlemmer is believed to be the first person to die playing an official rugby union game. This happened in a match between West End and Beaconsfield when he went into a coma after a loose scrum and never regained consciousness, dying in hospital on 14 August 1886. There may well be some other claim to this dubious “honour”, but as far as I am aware there are no others from 1871 when the first ever rugby union international was played. So we just wait for another claimant…

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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