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Professor George H Darwin


5 September 1897, John McLauchlin of Church and McLauchlin drowns in a well.
5 September 1905, Professor George H Darwin (pictured) and the British Association for the Advancement of Science visit Kimberley.


By Hugh Robert Mill, who was a member of the British Association to visit Kimberley:

“Two days were spent in Kimberley, in heat and dust, visiting the diamond mines, and seeing something of the scene of military operations during the late war. Time was found by several members interested in observational studies to visit Mr JR Sutton’s house at Kenilworth, the garden suburb maintained by the De Beers Company. Mr Sutton was recovering from the effects of a serious accident and was unable to show the observatory personally, but Mrs. Sutton, who assists him in his meteorological work, was a very able substitute. The splendid work done at this observatory is too well known to Fellows of this Society and to scientific men in Europe to require recapitulation. I am by no means sure that it is equally recognised in the colony itself, though in the future its value is bound to become apparent. It is to be hoped that steps will be taken to place the Kenilworth Observatory on a permanent footing.

Travelling northwards from Kimberley through Bechuanaland, the appearance of the country gradually improved, the grass grew less yellow, shrubs appeared, and the district of the bush veldt was entered. Everywhere the effects of the dry season remained apparent, and more than once extraordinary clouds, the position of which in any classification would have been extremely troublesome, revealed themselves on a nearer approach to be swarms of locusts. As we approached the borders of Rhodesia the trees were seen to be putting forth their young leaves in anticipation of the wet season still several weeks away.”

Note: In 1889 Dr John R Sutton was appointed by De Beers Consolidated Mines as a clerk. A few years later he was asked to establish a meteorological observatory at Kenilworth, a township of De Beers just outside Kimberley. Funds appear to have been readily available, as Sutton equipped the observatory with a wide variety of instruments. There was a standard mercury barometer with a fixed cistern and an adjustable zero point, a Fortin barometer with an adjustable cistern and a fixed zero point, and a photo-barograph which made a photographic record of the height of a mercury barometer. Hourly readings of wet and dry bulb thermometers were made with a device called a reversing thermometer, designed to measure sea temperatures at various depths, which Sutton claimed to have adapted for the first time to measure air temperatures. There were twelve of these devices which reversed hourly, controlled by clockwork and electricity. Other instruments included anemometers, rain gauges, evaporation tanks, radiometers, seismographs, and a 110 mm equatorially mounted telescope with various accessories. In addition to the main observatory Sutton set up nine rainfall stations in the district. Observations were started in 1893.

From 1898 to 1903 Sutton provided a copy of his results to the Meteorological Commission of the Cape of Good Hope, which published summaries in its annual reports. He was commended in particular for continuing his observations throughout the siege of Kimberley in 1899, at the beginning of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). Following the international classification adopted by the International Meteorological Congress in 1873 (introduced by the commission in 1897), the Kenilworth observatory was classified as the only first-order meteorological station from which returns were received. It was in fact the first, and for years the only, first-order station in southern Africa, and probably in all of Africa. (At this time the meteorological station at the Royal Observatory in Cape Town was classified as a “subsidiary first-order station”.)

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

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