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Today in Kimberley's History

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 28 JUNE

UPDATED: 28/06/2019

28 June 1882, Annie Penton, an elderly lady found with lots of gold and cash, arrested for IDB.
28 June 1902, Presentation of General Service medals to the
Kimberley Regiment.
28 June 1903, Frank Mandy, compound manager and former Papal guard, dies.
28 June 1991, Race classification at birth officially de-legislated.

DID YOU KNOW

Three personalities from trade unions who were at some stage in their life involved with Kimberley:

Walter Bayley Madeley was a picturesque and popular figure of the Labour movement in South Africa. He arrived in South Africa after the failure of the engineering strike in Great Britain of 1897 and secured a job at De Beers, Kimberley.

He was one of the members of the Kimberley Trades and Labour Council who were sacked for opposing De Beers’ exclusion from the provisions of the Workmen’s Compensation Bill in 1905. Only two members of the Council were not fired. Madeley made his first public speech from the platform at Kimberley during the lively campaign following the De Beers action.

He then moved to Boksburg, then went to England but returned shortly afterwards to find himself blacklisted and unable to get employment on the Rand. By 1910 he had his own soft-goods and tobacco shop at Springs. In 1910 he stood in the union elections and defeated Arthur Barlow (former editor of The Friend newspaper) by 63 votes. He became a Member of Parliament and brought his family back to South Africa. He represented Boksburg as an MP for the next 37 years until his death in May 1947.

He served in the Cabinet twice, first as Minister of Posts and Telegraphs and Public Works, and then again as Minister of Labour in Smuts’ government of World War II. He broke with the Labour Party and Cabinet on 31 October 1945.

Of Madeley, he was a hail-fellow-well-met type of personality, and an amusing speaker. A good debater, with a pleasant voice and clever repartee.

Katie Gelvan rendered the Trade union movement excellent service, particularly in the Eastern Cape, where she was secretary of the Garment Worker’s Union Port Elizabeth branch from 1938 until at least 1961.

At the age of 15 years, she was employed in Kimberley as a dressmaker at 40 shillings a month. After three years, and at age 18, she moved to Johannesburg and obtained similar work at 30 shillings a month but the firm closed after she was there only two weeks. She then was employed at another shop for 20 shillings a week.

In 1938 she became a member of the Union executive and was sent to Port Elizabeth to organize the garment workers, which she did. She became a city councilor of Port Elizabeth for the Walmer ward, a post she held for many years.

Archie Chalmers arrived in South Africa in 1919 and was a member of the Boilermaker’s Society in Benoni until 1922. He was involved in the 1922 strike and was fired from his job because of his trade union activities. He went to Kimberley in 1923 where he found employment with De Beers. He took a leading part in all trade union activities in Kimberley, helped form the Kimberley Trades and Labour Council and represented his workshop on the De Beers Joint Board. From 1925-1930 he was a member of the Kimberley Juvenile affairs Board. He returned to the Rand in 1930. He served on the executive board of his union until he retired in 1949. He received the UK Society of Boilermakers, Shipbuilders and Structural Workers Gold Badge in September 1959 for 53 years’ service to the union.

From: 2000 Casualties – A History of the Trade Unions and the Labour Movement in the union of South Africa. (Pietermaritzburg, 1961).

UPDATED: 28/06/2018

28 June 1882, Annie Penton, an elderly lady found with lots of gold and cash, arrested for IDB.
28 June 1902, Presentation of General Service medals to the
Kimberley Regiment.
28 June 1903, Frank Mandy, compound manager and former Papal guard, dies.

DID YOU KNOW

That building work started on the old Griqualand West Supreme Court (pictured) in 1882 and took two years to complete, opening in

PT-Griqualand_West_Supreme_Court-1884

Griqualand West Supreme Court

February 1884. This was short-lived as the building was declared unsafe in 1886, partially demolished and rebuilt. The clock tower (with clock) was added on in 1889. The building remained the Supreme Court of Griqualand West until 1968 when the Court moved to its present position in the Civic Centre (Malay Camp), but was retained as the Magistrate’s Court until May 1990 when the staff moved into their new premises on Knight Street – opened officially by Kobie Coetsee on 22 February 1991. The South African Police Services used the building as offices until 1994 when it was returned to the Department of Public Works. The building itself, a National Monument (declared 2 November 1990), is built of blue ironstone that came from a kopje overlooking Dutoitspan Mine. Convicts built the entire original structure, and most of the fittings and the furniture were made in Kimberley. Restored at a cost of R6.3 million in 2001 by MDH Joint Venture.

28 June 1902, Presentation of General Service medals to the Kimberley Regiment.
28 June 1903, Frank Mandy, compound manager and former Papal guard, dies.
28 June 1991, Race classification at birth officially de-legislated.

DID YOU KNOW

There were many diggers who moved away from the crowded alluvial diggings along the Vaal river during 1869 and 1870 – the river being roughly 30 kilometres from Kimberley – and many stories in print state there were traces of earlier excavations and tunnels before diamonds were eventually discovered in the veld and kopjes of the farms Dorstfontein, Bultfontein, Vooruitzicht and Benaauwheidsfontein. All the newspapers – the Cape Argus, the Grahamstown Journal, the Standard and Diggers Mail, the Friend of the Free State and Bloemfontein Gazette, are filled with stories of discoveries of diamonds well away from the rivers, notably in the Fauresmith, Boshof and Bloemhof regions. One such report mentioned that a man named Hartlegen from Fauresmith brought a diamond to Colesberg for verification in either June or July 1869.

In November 1869 it was announced that a diamond mine had been discovered some three hours ride from Jacobsdal in the Free State, this probably being the Jagersfontein Mine. An overseer of the Jagersfontein farm named De Klerk had found a 50-carat diamond while he had been prospecting in a riverbed, and within weeks prospectors were paying £2 a month for digging permits. Jagersfontein was being mined extensively by October 1870, with the Koffiefontein Mine being discovered that same month according to the Grahamstown Journal, although there are contradicting reports on the discovery of this mine.

Louis Hond, a lapidary from Holland, later to be intimately involved in the Bultfontein Mine, was based in Hopetown and was probably the most knowledgeable diamond expert available at the time. Employed by him were Leopold Lilienfeld (of Lilienfeld Brothers), and Stafford Parker, both becoming well-known characters of the diamond fields, particularly the latter when he became President of the Diggers Republic at Klipdrift. Klipdrift was re-named Parkertown in his honour, but the Republic was short-lived and the town’s name reverted to Klipdrift and later became Barkly West. In a letter to the Grahamstown Journal dated 28 July 1869, Hond was quite prophetic about diamonds in other places other than the rivers in that “…in some localities as well as the Vaal River diamonds are to be discovered.” It was to Hond that all finders of diamonds were coming to in Hopetown, and the indigenous Griqua towns were all but deserted as the “…Griquas were searching in all areas…” for up to six hours a day. The Griquas would have told him the general area where they had found the diamond so perhaps his prophecy was a logical conclusion.

The Lilienfeld Brothers, Martin, Gustav and Leopold, had the largest trading store in Hopetown, and by the time the ‘Star of South Africa’ diamond was brought in on 19 March 1869, were already well established in the diamond buying business, and had financial agreements with A Mosenthal of Port Elizabeth. Mosenthal was later a De Beers Company Director. Louis Hond was their adviser, and he too had a store in Hopetown called L.Hond and Company.

More of a prophet was a gentleman named Mr Mons, a regular correspondent to the Cape Argus, who stated in 1867, and again in September 1869, that there must be a diamond mine somewhere in the region. How right he was.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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