24 November 1892, Baptist Church (pictured) on Dutoitspan Road opened.
The Baptist Church opens for services
The first building that was constructed for the Baptist Union Church in November 1892 still stands on the corner of DuToitspan Road and Allan Street, and has served as a place of business for various tenants. The side of the building has been covered with corrugated iron and the original facade built has been closed in the front.
It is not entirely certain when the first Baptists arrived on the Diamond Fields, but in July 1889 the president of the Baptist Union, Rev. G.W. Cross, and financial secretary Rev. H.J. Batts came to Kimberley to hold church services. The first service was held in the Woodley Street Hall on Sunday morning, 21 July 1889, and the evening service was held in the Theatre Royal in Jones Street (Phakamile Mabija Road).
The first minister to be called to service in Kimberley for this congregation was Rev. Jas Hughes. By this time the congregation was making use of the Good Templars Hall in DuToitspan Road. In June 1890 Hughes announced that the Baptist Union of South Africa had decided that the church will be known as the The Baptist Union Church of Kimberley.
Plans for the church building were ready by July 1891 but it was decided to put the construction on hold until the plot for the building had been paid off. By September 1892 the debt was paid and the foundation stones were laid. The church could seat 450 people.
The first meeting was held here on 24 November 1892. To help pay for the building, it was decided that pews would be let to members of the congregation. In the early 1900s, the church was in need of an organ and one was purchased from J. Binns at a cost of £1 000 to complete. Apparently the sound board was faulty and the contractor had not done the installation correctly so another contractor had to complete the job. The organist position was granted to an applicant from Graaff-Reinet.
By 1916 the Union Baptist Church was one of the largest in the Union.
In 1939 plans for a hall were put forward and it was stated that the hall was needed for the Baptist Union Assembly later that same year.
For a number of years the congregation had been thinking of building a new church on the site in Lyndhurst Road where the congregation now meets. The old church was in the centre of town at a busy intersection. But, due to a lack of funds, the new church was only built later and was dedicated on 29 November 1975.
The very last service in the Union Baptist Church was held on the evening of Sunday, 23 November 1975.
(By Anneke du Toit. Published in the Noordkaap newspaper 3 June 2009).
24 November 1892, Baptist Church on Du Toitspan Road opened.
Alfred Beit (pictured) has been described as the “Financial Napoleon” of the South African business world, and was certainly the brains behind Cecil Rhodes’ ventures. Born in Hamburg Germany in February 1853, Beit is normally the forgotten man of politics and business – which would have suited him immensely.A man of indifferent health, he was an apprentice in merchant business being indentured to Siegmund Robinow and Sons. In 1875 he was sent as a diamond buyer to South Africa, at age 22, with the firm DJ Lippert and Company. He had the same idea as Cecil Rhodes, that is, that to save the diamond industry it must be controlled by some strong hand.In 1882 he joined the firm Jules Porges and Company, became a partner to Julius Wernher in 1886 and in 1889 formed the firm Wernher, Beit and Company. Like Rhodes and Isaacs, Beit was busy buying up claims when, one day, he met up with Rhodes, who asked Beit what his plans were. Beit replied, “I am going to control the whole diamond industry before I am much older.” Rhodes then said: “That’s funny. I have made up my mind to do the same. We had better join hands.” Which they did.
Gardner Williams, the first General Manager of De Beers, said of Beit: “He was very largely instrumental in building up the diamond mining industry and bringing the dreams of Rhodes into practical shape and on business lines.” He never took part in politics as such, but was associated with Rhodes in the settlement of what is now Zimbabwe.
All this time, Wernher and Beit and Company were busy consolidating and they became the powerhouse on the Witwatersrand.
Beit and his firm fitted out and provided horse for the Imperial Light horse as well as the Imperial Yeomanry during the Anglo-Boer War. All the horse used in the Mafeking Relief column were supplied from Beit’s own pocket, and the Boer flag captured at Vryburg was given to Beit in 1902. During the siege of Kimberley he remained in London.
His last trip to South Africa was in 1902 when he fell ill, an illness from which he did not recover. Beit, a very charitable personality, was a Governor of Guy Hospital in London, donated £100 000 to Hamburg University, and was a great benefactor of Oxford University.
Short in stature, thickset in figure, Beit was nervous, and hated publicity. His weight of intellect however, combined with his methodical business skills, ensured that he would always be remembered in South Africa. Most South Africans only know the name, however, for the bridge crossing the Crocodile River (Limpopo) that joins Zimbabwe with South Africa.
He died on 16 July 1906.