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Neville Pickering

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 26 JUNE

UPDATED: 26/06/2019

26 June 1884, Neville Pickering (pictured) falls out of a horse trap and is injured.
26 June 1940, German internees arrive at Andalusia.

DID YOU KNOW

Neville Pickering, considered by the De Beers directors to be the best diamond broker in Kimberley, had a rather sad and painful last two years. He had been out riding in a trap on Thursday afternoon, 26 June 1884, when he was thrown out and fell right into a thorn bush, some of the lengthy thorns entering below the knees of both legs.

There had been great difficulty in extracting the thorns, and poison from the thorns had inflamed his legs considerably, and the poison spread into his lungs eventually. He never did recover from the accident and by 1885 he had been temporarily replaced as secretary due to his illness.

Rhodes nursed him during his illness, whenever he could, and did everything humanly possible to save his friend’s life, but to no avail. Neville had been named as Trustee in Rhodes’ second will on 27 October 1882, and had written in a separate letter to him “the curious conditions of my will can only be carried out by a trustworthy person and I consider you one.” This second will, unusual in its brevity, stated simply “I, C.J. Rhodes, being of sound mind, leave my worldly wealth to N.E. Pickering.” At that time his legal counsel was Robert Dundas Graham.

Sir David Harris happened to witness an extraordinary scene at the De Beers Mining Company Boardroom on Warren Street a few days after Neville’s death. Rhodes and William Pickering were conversing. “I saw two men sitting at a bare writing table. Something made me stop and I stood quite still. They had no papers in front of them and did not say a word. Damn funny, it looked. They were both in the same attitude; one hand on the brow shutting the eyes and supporting the head with the elbow resting on the table, the other hand and arm lay flat on the table. Damn funny, I give you my word. I stood there stock-still, sort of fascinated. Then on the table between them I saw a gold watch and chain in a rough pile which Rhodes and Willie Pickering were alternately pushing from one to the other. First one would give it a shove and the other would only shake his head and push it back again. And I give you my word they were both crying. All I heard was, ‘No, you are his brother,’ and again, ‘No, you are his greatest friend.’

Pickering’s death did affect Rhodes, but he tried to dismiss the matter from his mind with the remark: “Well, one must go on with one’s work. After all a thing like this is only a big detail.”

UPDATED: 26/06/2018

26 June 1884, Neville Pickering falls out of a horse trap and is injured.
26 June 1940, German internees arrive at Andalusia.

DID YOU KNOW

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Andalusia Camp Commandants House

The Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme – an idea of Rhodes’ in 1886 – started in 1934 in the region and by the end of the year had cost £2 million for the 300 settlements. The farm Andalusia was approved for survey as a town (or village) just before World War II, and development came to a halt circa 1940 because of the conflict. An internment camp for Germans from East Africa, SWA, Rhodesia, and South Africa was erected in the settlement, one of the largest in the country with over 200 guards deployed.

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Andalusia Camp Cemetery

The Royal Navy chose Ganspan – now part of Jan Kempdorp – in 1942 for an ammunition depot for their naval vessels, chosen because of easy access for them to get bombs, etc to any coast in South Africa, and also because it was too far for either German or Japanese bombers to reach. After the war the Union Defence Force opened an ammo depot adjacent to the Royal Naval depot, the latter being taken over by South Africa when the Royal Navy left in 1958. The combined ammo depot became 93 Ammunition Depot of the South African Defence Force.

Andalusia Camp Perimeter Fence

During World War II there were three Internment Camps in the region – one at Ganspan and two at Andalusia. They were mostly German speaking residents of SWA (now Namibia), although there were a few from the countries now known as Zimbabwe and Botswana. At Andalusia at least 2000 internees lived in the camp from 1941 onwards, and at least 17 lie buried in the local cemetery. 180 internees lived at Ganspan.

In 1956 the name of the town was changed from Andalusia to Jan Kempdorp in honour of an Anglo-Boer War General, Jan Kemp, a member of the Krugersdorp Commando in the early part of that conflict.

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Andalusia Camp Swimming Pool

By 1963 there were 1250 plots for white farmers and 1550 plots for Black farmers in the scheme, the population totalling 29 000 souls, while the canal network in the scheme measured some 900 kilometres.

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Andalusia Camp Cemetery

Historically, Matabele Thompson lies buried in the region at Cornforth Hill; the notorious robber/rustler/highwayman Scotty Smith operated in this region as he had his HQ at Taung; and Professor Raymond Dart discovered the famous Taung skull.

Pictured are the Andalusia camp perimeter fence with guard, a drawing of the camp housing utilities, the camp swimming pool today, and the camp cemetery.

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A drawing of the Andalusia Camp Housing Utilities

26 June 1884, Neville Pickering falls out of a horse trap and is injured.

DID YOU KNOW

Neville Pickering, secretary to the De Beers Mining Company and Rhodes’ best friend on the Diamond Fields, died on Saturday 16 October 1886. His friendship with Rhodes’ was such that the latter gave up negotiations on the gold fields of the Witwatersrand to rush to his friend’s deathbed in Kimberley in the cottage they shared next to the Natal cricket ground. Pickering had joined the De Beers Mining Company in 1881 as the secretary but it cannot be ascertained when he had arrived in Kimberley from the Eastern Cape. It has been said that Pickering’s death affected Rhodes considerably, and there is no doubt that it did, as he never again set foot in their cottage. Shortly afterwards he persuaded Neville’s brother William to join the De Beers Company.

Neville Pickering had been in the employ of Dunell, Ebden and Company in Port Elizabeth when he visited Kimberley, William at that stage being the Manager of Standard Bank in Dutoitspan. Neville, who was 29 when he died, was respected (beloved was the word used) by both men and women during his life, and did have relationships with the fairer sex. Indeed, Neville was engaged to be married to Miss Maud Christian of Port Elizabeth when he died, and when she married Justice Sir William Solomon, a well-known Kimberley man, in April 1891 , she still continued to wear Neville’s engagement ring on her hand next to her wedding ring. William Pickering’s descendants always believed that they were still engaged when Neville died.

Neville Pickering, considered by the De Beers directors to be the best diamond broker in Kimberley, had a rather sad and painful last two years. He had been out riding in a trap on Thursday afternoon, 26 June 1884 , when he was thrown out and fell right into a thorn bush, some of the lengthy thorns entering below the knees of both legs. There had been great difficulty in extracting the thorns, and poison from the thorns had inflamed his legs considerably, and the poison spread into his lungs eventually. He never did recover from the accident and by 1885 he had been temporarily replaced as secretary due to his illness. Rhodes nursed him during his illness, whenever he could, and did everything humanly possible to save his friend’s life, but to no avail. Neville had been named as Trustee in Rhodes’ second will on 27 October 1882, and had written in a separate letter to him “the curious conditions of my will can only be carried out by a trustworthy person and I consider you one.” This second will, unusual in its brevity, stated simply “I, C.J. Rhodes, being of sound mind, leave my worldly wealth to N.E. Pickering.” At that time his legal counsel was Robert Dundas Graham.

Sir David Harris happened to witness an extraordinary scene at the De Beers Mining Company Boardroom on Warren Street a few days after Neville’s death. Rhodes and William Pickering were conversing. “I saw two men sitting at a bare writing table. Something made me stop and I stood quite still. They had no papers in front of them and did not say a word. Damn funny, it looked. They were both in the same attitude; one hand on the brow shutting the eyes and supporting the head with the elbow resting on the table, the other hand and arm lay flat on the table. Damn funny, I give you my word. I stood there stock-still, sort of fascinated. Then on the table between them I saw a gold watch and chain in a rough pile which Rhodes and Willie Pickering were alternately pushing from one to the other. First one would give it a shove and the other would only shake his head and push it back again. And I give you my word they were both crying. All I heard was, ‘No, you are his brother,’ and again, ‘No, you are his greatest friend.’

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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