18 May 1876, The Lanyon Theatre opens.
18 May 1881, Meeting called to form the Kimberley Club.
18 May 1906, Statue of Queen Victoria in the Public Gardens unveiled.
(Pictured is the statue in its original position at the entrance to the Public Gardens).
Queen Victoria Statue unveiled at Gardens entrance
Kimberley’s bronze monument of Queen Victoria has pride of place outside the William Humphreys Art Gallery on Sol Plaatje Drive (formerly Jan Smuts Boulevard) opposite the Oppenheimer Gardens. Resplendent on her State chair, and clad in her state robes, Queen Victoria holds a sceptre in one hand and orb in the other. One of three cast by Mario Raggi (1821-1907) from the same mould – the other two are in Hong Kong and Toronto – the height of the statue is nine feet and six inches.
It was unveiled on 18 May 1906 by Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson, after a process lasting just over four years. At a meeting on 28 February 1902 it was decided to erect the Queen’s Statue and a committee was formed. This committee, which included such local dignitaries as D.W. Greatbatch, Charles Nind, John Orr, William Pickering, J.D. Tyson, H.A. Oliver, Gustav Bonas, Colonel Sir David Harris, and Fergus Carstairs-Rogers, decided that the finished product would grace the entrance to the Kimberley Public Gardens, (now Regiment Way), at a point just beyond the Drill Hall opposite the Belgravia tennis courts. The entrance road to the Gardens was widened to allow reasonable access to pedestrians from both sides of approach.
Mario Raggi of Regent’s Park, London designed the statue, and the founders were Messrs Singer and Company of Frome, Somersetshire, England. Daniel Greatbatch designed the base and the local constructors employed were Church and McLauchlin. The Union Castle line shipped the statue free of charge to Cape Town and the railways did likewise in transporting it to Kimberley. De Beers Company donated the basalt stone for the pedestal, while the cut stone came from Steenpan in the Free State.
The entire cost came to £1500, of which £1050 was collected in Kimberley through public subscription.
The statue was moved to its current position at the William Humphreys Art Gallery in 1959, and shortly thereafter, Regiment Way was constructed as part of the new road to Boshof.