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UPDATED: 23/07/2021

23 July 1887, Kimberley Public Library opens.
23 July 1901, The death of Joseph Pratley of Beaconsfield.
23 July 1925, The Prince of Wales visits Kimberley.
23 July 1980, Jimmy Tau, SA soccer star, born in Kimberley.


Kimberley Public Library in 1887

Public Library celebrates 134 years in existence

Having commenced operations in 1882 in a building which they shared with the Municipality and which drastically limited the ability of the Library to serve the public, the Library Committee, with the Hon Mr Justice PM Laurence at the helm, set about collecting from the public the necessary funds for the purpose of erecting ‘a large and commodious public library’ on a site in Dutoitspan Road acquired previously at an auction for £600.

£6000 was collected; a remarkable achievement bearing in mind the economic depression prevailing on the Diamond Fields at the time.

David Yuill, in his unpublished dissertation on the architecture of Kimberley from 1871 to 1914 describes the new library building as having both American and Second Empire style influences and yet, despite this, early photographs showing the Library with its contrasting horizontally banded brickwork suggest that it would not have been totally out of place in a mid-Victorian English industrial landscape.


Kimberley Africana Library

Yuill goes on to explain the reason for the use of material which had previously not been utilised in this part of the world as follows – the arrival of the railway in Kimberley in 1885 made available many materials including cast iron, that had hitherto been used only on a very small scale. “New” types of building such as the Library were thus inevitable.

The interior of the building reveals Kimberley’s first use of McFarlane’s cast iron in the construction of the gallery. The Mansard roof over the main library space is covered with Welsh slate, another material that had no place in the pre-Railway era. Joinery work displays stencilled decoration of which few other examples survive in Kimberley and the various colours of facebrick work externally were produced in the Kimberley Public Works Department brickyards.

R E Wright, the District Inspector of Works of the Public Works Department in Kimberley was appointed a member of the Library Committee’s Building Subcommittee and was authorised by the Civil Commissioner, an ex officio Trustee of the Kimberley Public Library, to render his services as architect for this project. At a meeting of the Kimberley Public Library Committee held on 6 May 1886, Wright produced a rough sketch prepared by a member of his staff J R Elton, of the proposed new Library. Wright is given due recognition for the role he played during the construction of the Library when the Chairman, Mr Justice Laurence said during his address to Subscribers that it would be a great omission not to make a special acknowledgement of the very valuable services they had received from Mr Wright. It was one thing to be authorised to do certain work, but it was quite another to carry out that work con amore and the energy and zeal which had been displayed by Mr Wright in his capacity as architect could not be too warmly recognized.

The tender for the new Kimberley Public Library building was awarded jointly to Messrs Westlake and Coles and Messrs Smith and Bull. The entire cost of the building had been defrayed by public donations, the building itself having cost £5533.15s 11d. The new Library building was officially opened on 23 July 1887.

Shortly after the new Kimberley Public Library building was opened in July 1887, the bookstock of the Library totalled 5 022 volumes. By 1892 the number of volumes held by the library had risen to 15 539, a figure exceeded in South Africa only by libraries in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth (KPL Minutes, 13.10.1892), institutions which had been established many years before the Public Library in Kimberley. The pace at which the Committee of the new Library expanded the bookstock can be measured by the fact that in 1902, after a period of only 15 years since its inception, the number of volumes housed in the Library had increased by 21 529. The majority of these had been purchased and a relatively small number of volumes donated to the institution. Roughly 65% of the bookstock was non-fiction and 35% fiction.

(From: The history and the development of Kimberly Africana Library and its relationship with the Kimberly Public Library by Rosemary Jean Holloway).

UPDATED: 23/07/2019

23 July 1887, Kimberley Public Library opens.
23 July 1901, The death of Joseph Pratley of Beaconsfield.
23 July 1925, The Prince of Wales visits Kimberley.
23 July 1980, Jimmy Tau, SA soccer star, born in Kimberley.


South African football star and defender Jimmy Rabaholo Tau was born in Galeshewe Kimberley on Wednesday 23 July 1980, the eldest of two children to Nomonde (Louisa) Tau and her husband (name unknown at this time), his sibling being sister Thulisa. His father died when Jimmy was a young child and his mother in 2009.


Jimmy Tau – SA Soccer Star

Raised at 5 Makapane Street, Vergenoeg, he was educated in Kimberley at Zingisa Primary School and at Vuyolwethu Secondary School.

Known by his nicknames ‘Lion King’, ‘Lion’ and ‘Big Five’, Jimmy was a prodigious football talent at school before signing on with the Basotho Tigers in 1999 before joining Maritzburg City in 2001. By 2002 he was with Orlando Pirates, for whom he played 73 games, but made his name household when he joined Kaiser Chiefs in 2005, playing 210 games for the Amakhosi until his retirement on his birthday in 2013. He scored 18 goals during his professional career, and is still the only player to have captained both the Buccaneers and the Amakhosi. Playing at right back for most of his career, Tau was an incisive tackler with perfect timing in his challenges.

Between 2003 and 2007 he played in eight games for Bafana Bafana – the South African national team – his debut being a 3-0 drubbing of Lesotho on 8 October 2003.

His stay at Chiefs coincided with the club winning two Nedbank Cup trophies, two MTN8 cups, three Telkom Knockout winners’ medals, and the 2012/ 2013 Absa Premiership trophy.

Having studied for a UNISA degree while with the Amakhosi he has since retirement become a successful businessman, one of his major interests being a Director of Bataung Memorial Tombstones in Katlehong. On many occasions too, he is utilised as a sports analyst for Supersport.

He still regularly makes the news on social media, as do so many former sportsmen and women, and featured in the TV programme Survivor SA filmed on a Malaysian island in October 2013. His autobiography, “Jimmy Tau – My Life Story”, was published that same year.

Playing for the Amakhosi fulfilled a lifelong dream, but created friendly banter at home:

“I grew up supporting Chiefs. So did my father, who passed away when I was a boy. My mother has always been Pirates, so I’m used to the division in the house during derby time.”

Happy Birthday, “Lion King”!

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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