29 September 1874, Fire destroys Kimberley’s first hospital.
29 September 1887, The Hospital Chapel inaugurated.
29 September 1964, Ezekiel Siame trapped in De Beers mine for 3 days after mud rush.
(Pictured is the Kimberley Hospital in 1907)
The Kimberley Hospital
By Anneke du Toit (Noordkaap):
“The history of the Kimberley Hospital began with the discovery of diamonds near Hopetown in late 1866/early 1867. Those in search of wealth flocked to the area. Before long illnesses such as typhoid, dysentery and smallpox broke out. Catholic priest Father Anatole Hidien gave them accommodation and care at a tent hospital near the Bultfontein mine.
Near the Dutoitspan jail, a Dr Considine was in charge of the Diggers’ Central Hospital, but the hospital was destroyed by a great wind in 1871. Father Hidien came to the rescue and the two men put their money together to form the New Diggers’ Hospital. Diggers in the area realised that the hospital was too far from them and began building huts from wood and clay near the Bultfontein racecourse.
The Southey Government went ahead with plans to build a 22-bed hospital in Dutoitspan Road and in 1874 a wood and iron building was constructed. It was initially referred to as the Provincial Hospital, but was later called the Carnarvon Hospital. This building was destroyed in a fire in 1874 and the Southey Government had it rebuilt.”
GA Hodgson: “…I was always in touch with the Hospital and watched its growth under Sister Henrietta’s care. In June, 1887, I was there on a visit and write: “It has indeed grown an enormous place–something like an oak out of an acorn in comparison with the little place it was when I knew it first eight years ago. The little old Hospital still exists, much as it was, as a very small piece in the centre of the great new building.” But even then it was not large enough; they were “dreadfully overdone with patients–more coming every day than they have beds for.” “Sister has been so harassed and driven with work, from the Hospital being so overcrowded.”
And two of the nurses were seriously ill, from the same cause, it was thought. It was not until 1892 that I saw the Hospital completed–a really great place, covering a great extent of ground. There was already then the Nurses’ Home, where the forty staff nurses slept and spent their off-duty time (the Head nurses had their rooms in the main building), the money for which had been collected by Sister Henrietta, with the help of Archdeacon (now Bishop) Gaul, in a marvellously short time; and there was the beautiful Chapel, built and furnished entirely by the exertions and offerings of Sister Henrietta and her own immediate friends and helpers, where Celebrations and other services were held for nurses and patients both on week-days and Sundays. And Sister Henrietta was at the head of all, overlooking, directing all, arranging all the details of the work, holding all the many threads in her hands. Twice daily, morning and evening, she made the round of the whole Hospital, visiting every ward in turn and speaking with the patients. Every month she changed the staff nurses and patients in the various wards, so that everyone in turn should get the training and experience to be gained in each. And still, in spite of some opposition, she kept up the serious and religious tone of the work by requiring the whole staff to be present every night at Compline at 9 p.m. There was no longer the pressure and overcrowding, all was well-ordered; the work went on with regularity and exactitude. The reputation of the Hospital had become such that patients came from all parts of the country for treatment, successful operations of all kinds were performed, and nurses trained there were sought for as matrons of new hospitals started in other places.”