30 August 1890, Foundation stone laid for the new Municipal complex in Stockdale Street.
DID YOU KNOW
Two postcards circa 1907 are depicted showing quite clearly the Kimberley municipal compound (complex) at the time. Both photographs are taken from the headgear of the Kimberley Mine (Big Hole) and one can see the De Beers Mine headgear and on the horizon the Free State “Alps”.
In the 1980s a new road was constructed linking North Circular Road to Roper Street, thus extending Compound Street from Pniel Road to what is now Phakamile Mabija Road (old Transvaal Road).
The road was called Compound Street as it led to the Municipal Compound (complex). Compound in this instance means “…an enclosed area of land that is used for a particular purpose.”
Kimberley became a Municipality in 1878, the works departments being granted land on Stockdale Street for their convenience. By 1881 the apparatus for lighting the streets of the town had arrived and the power station constructed. This station would be increased in size by 1900 when power was extended to certain suburbs in Kimberley. (See the flue in the one postcard for the power station).
The fire brigade was also based at the complex, the volunteer fire brigade from the 1870s being replaced by a permanent force in 1882 consisting of 30 persons, the Superintendent of the brigade also holding the post of Sanitary Inspector. The new fire engine bought in 1892 at the International Exhibition in Kimberley and now in the Mine Museum was based here until taken from service.
Operating from a rudimentary couple of ramshackle huts the foundation stone laid on 30 August 1890 by Mayor Thomas Goodwin was for the Fire Brigade’s new station as well as the “modern” complex seen in the postcards (with the high wall). The new fire station included the station, firemen’s quarters, stables and buildings for the accommodation of the electric light plant.
Also stationed at this complex were the engineering, transport and mechanical workshops.
By 1957 the fire brigade had moved to their new premises in Lyndhurst Road and all the other various departments by the 1970s to their new headquarters in Abbatoir Road. All administration for the council had moved to the new civic centre by October 1962.
In due course these buildings of the municipal compound (complex) were demolished and by 1980 were no more.
Nothing yet found for this day in Kimberley’s history. Research is ongoing.
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In the middle of many graves of Anglo-Boer War Imperial soldiers who lie buried in Kimberley‘s West End cemetery lies the grave of a woman – a Mrs Maria Macintosh Redpath, the inscription in part stating that she was the President of the Loyal Guild of Women from 1902 until 1904. It is a known fact that Mrs Redpath, with the assistance of labourers, travelled extensively around the Kimberley region maintaining all the British graves, be they single or mass, until shortly before her death on Thursday 8 December 1904.
Also known is the fact that when Mrs Redpath died so suddenly, the Guild was in quite a quandary as it was only she who knew the exact locations of these myriad graves scattered in the 120 kilometre radius of Kimberley. No one else had visited these graves and cemeteries, or if they had, it was to the occasional one or two at the better-known battles of Magersfontein or Modder River. Another problem was that no one person would be able to travel so extensively as Mrs Redpath had done, so it was important to mark the graves and cemeteries so that any person would be able to visit them to do the necessary maintenance without getting lost.
So the Guild decided to plant pepper trees (from South America) next to each grave or cemetery and then anybody would be able to see where the soldiers were interred from a distance – they must head for the pepper tree or trees. This was done, and to this very day despite the fact that the majority of Imperial soldiers were reinterred in Kimberley in the 1960s, the pepper trees still mark the spots of the now empty graves. Quite a fitting and natural memorial to the work of Mrs Redpath who gave so much of her time to the fallen soldiers.
But who was this woman?
Her newspaper obituary, quite detailed but missing important biographical information, states that she was a prominent figure on the Diamond Fields and had a noble, useful and interesting life.
She was born the daughter of Reverend W Machin, a Canadian.
She was the first pupil of the original Normal School in Canada, and was gifted intellectually, as from the ages of 17 to 23 years she was in charge of a large church school, her interest at this stage being in education.
It soon turned to nursing and she went to Germany to investigate the German methods of nursing and through this met with Florence Nightingale. She then came under the wing of Florence Nightingale and organised the nursing at St Thomas’ Hospital in England. She was soon giving lectures on nursing to probationers (trainee nurses).
On her behalf, Florence Nightingale sent her (and other nurses) back to Canada, where she re-organised the Montreal Hospital. After that sojourn in her home country she went back to England where she went to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, being nursing matron for three years.
Being a person of many interests she went to listen to Bishop Webb, the Bishop of Bloemfontein, give a lecture and was so taken by his talk that she decided to go to South Africa and work with and for him. She first worked in the little cottage hospital in Bloemfontein and then in hospitals along the Basutoland (Lesotho) border, which is where she met her husband, WT Redpath. She then came to Kimberley where she became involved in charity work and in particular the work of the Guild.
A member of the Royal British Nurses Association Council, she was a personal friend of Princess Alice (daughter of Queen Victoria) as well as Princess Alexandra who became Queen when her husband King Edward VII ascended the throne in 1901.
She became seriously ill rather suddenly and when her health failed in Kimberley Hospital – where she died – she arranged her own funeral, and at her request was buried among the soldiers “…in whose cause she had so faithfully laboured.”
Mrs Redpath, who lived with her husband WT Redpath at Hillside off Memorial Road, was buried at 5pm on Friday 9 December 1904.
While undoubtedly something happened this very day in Kimberley’s history, it has not yet been found. The research, naturally, continues….
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EP Herald, 23 Oct 1980
True warrior by Keith Sutton
A man who vividly recalls General Berrange’s force setting off on its 1 100 kilometre trek from Kimberley across the Kalahari into South West Africa [now Namibia], in December, 1914, is Dave Grindlay of Port Alfred. As a boy of 14 he watched them crack their whips and leave. He was itching to go too, but he was not old enough. His father, a chief clerk at Wesselton Mine, was in the force and so was his eldest brother, Willie.
Dave’s time came soon enough. Today he’s a familiar figure in his wheelchair, evidence of his service in the First World War. Both legs were amputated after he was hit by a shell just 34 days before Armistice on November, 11, 1918. “I didn’t lose my legs,” he says with grim humour. “I know where they are.” When asked how old he is, Dave says: “I’m footloose and over 40.” Actually, of course, he is 80. Dave’s brother, Willie, was wounded at Ypres, Gordon was wounded too and so was Ron. Not a bad record for one family.
“I did not get home until 1920,” he told me. “The gangrene was terrible. We were all badly infected. We were fitted with artificial limbs in England, but they were made of willow and were very heavy. “It was the wounded French airman De Soutter who first experimented with aluminium. An alloy was found which was tough enough to take the punishment, and eventually we were all fitted with them.”
Dave went to work for De Beers after the war and remained with the company for 30 years. Despite his legless state he joined up in the Second World War and spent five years as a sergeant in the SAAF.
His service was at 21 Special Flying Training School, Kimberley, though his special responsibility was training telephonists. “Quite a few famous South Africans passed through 21 Air School. There was Ed Swales VC, Tony Harris, the finest flyhalf I’ve ever seen in a lifetime of watching rugby and Bobby Locke, the golfer. The famous “Tiger” Bosch AFC, was there too. I remember one occasion when a pupil pilot doing a solo ‘froze’ and couldn’t land. Bosch took off and guided him safely in, except for a broken undercarriage.”
Dave has a photograph taken in the Provincial Hospital to remind him of the last visit to the Eastern Cape of legless Group Captain, Sir Douglas Bader, the RAF’s most famous pilot. “He came to see me in hospital. “Here we are, the two of us,” I remarked, “and we haven’t a leg to stand on.”
It was about four years ago that Dave took to his wheelchair due to arthritis. Apart from that, his eyesight is not what it was, but he remains unfailingly cheerful. You cannot, it seems, get Dave Grindlay down.
EP Herald, 30 Oct 1980
Problem solved by Keith Sutton
My piece about Dave Grindlay (RAB, October 23) brings back memories of bygone days of Kimberley.
“Dave”, Joffre Simpson, a former sub-editor of the Herald tells me, “Was known to everyone in the city, not only for the high price he paid in serving his country in the First World War – he lost both legs before he was 21 – but especially for his irrepressible sense of humour. A fine example of it appeared in the Diamond Fields Advertiser, a newspaper of which Joffre’s father was later editor,
“My memory is a bit vague after the lapse of half of a century,” says Joffre, “but in a letter to the newspaper, or in an article, the question was asked: “What can wives do about husbands who slip out on their own late at night?”
“Dave Grindlay’s letter, published in the DFA, had the entire city chuckling.
His wife, he wrote, had no problem. When they went to bed all she did was to throw his tin legs on top of the wardrobe,”