20 November 1874, The first massive landslip in the Kimberley Mine results in great loss of jobs.
20 November 1962, Bust of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer unveiled in the Oppenheimer Gardens.
THE SIR ERNEST OPPENHEIMER BUST
Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, founder of the Anglo-American Corporation and Chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited from 1929, died on 25 November 1957, at a time when Kimberley’s new Civic Centre was being constructed. A magnificent garden was designed as part of the greater complex shortly thereafter in memory of Sir Ernest by landscape artist Joanne Pim.
The De Beers Company contributed R70 000 of the R100 000 cost for the Gardens that included the Diggers Fountain in memory of all the diggers past and present that had worked on the Kimberley mines. Sculpted by Herman Wald, the Diggers Fountain comprises five diggers, representing the five big mines of Dutoitspan, Bultfontein, De Beers, Kimberley and Wesselton, holding aloft an early type of diamond sieve.
The Gardens were open for public use by early December 1961.
The Civic Centre and Oppenheimer Gardens was formerly the historic Malay Camp that lay between Lennox Street, Hospital Road, Lyndhurst Road, upper Bultfontein road (Dalham Road) and Selby Street. De Beers gave the land to the Kimberley City Council in 1939 subject to certain conditions according to the Deed of Transfer. This defined the region of the Malay Camp and made it obligatory on the Council to acquire all property by 31 December 1953 and to prepare a plan for development of the region.
Subsequently the Malay Camp was flattened – ostensibly because it was gazetted a slum and eyesore – throughout the 1950s. The inhabitants of the Malay Camp were re-housed in suburbs on the perimeter of Kimberley. Only one house, a reasonably modern one, remains of the Malay Camp.
The bust of Sir Ernest standing on a marble colonnade was unveiled on 20 November 1962 by Graham Eden, Mayor of Kimberley and Member of the Provincial Council. Present at the brief ceremony were Harry Oppenheimer, son of Sir Ernest, and J.H. “Jim” Joel, the grand-nephew of Barney Barnato.
This twice life-size bust, sculpted by Rhona Stern, was the first bronze bust in South Africa to stand in the open and took seven months to complete. The bust was stolen in December 1988 and presumably destroyed but replaced later.