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TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 9 JULY

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UPDATED: 09/07/2018

9 July 1847, Henrietta Stockdale born in England.
9 July 1871, First baptism entry – Leonard Hinton – at the Catholic church in Bultfontein by Father Hidien.
9 July 1891, A big explosion occurs at De Beers Head Office, Stockdale Street.
9 July 1897, De Beers CM Diamond Valuator William Bawden dies.

(Pictured is DBCM Head Office showing the Market Street side).

DID YOU KNOW

On Thursday evening 9 July 1891 at 22h40 the whole town of Kimberley was shaken by a tremendous explosion – somebody or some persons unknown had attacked the De Beers Consolidated Mines offices on Stockdale Street with dynamite in an attempt to destroy the building.

All the windows on the Market Street, including those of other businesses, were blown out by the explosion, and brickwork in places was badly damaged. A large gap in the wall of the De Beers offices on the Market Street side was also visible to those first on the scene.

The interior of the offices where the dynamite exploded were, in the words of the Diamond Fields Advertiser, “…a sad wreck”.

The company security official on duty, a guard named Peat, had been on his beat and heading along Stockdale Street towards Market Street when the explosion occurred – he was blown off his feet. Peat stated that there had been two explosions, one immediately following each other.

Company directors were on the scene shortly afterwards to check the damage.

Despite a reward of some £500 advertised regularly in the newspapers, there had been no apprehension of those involved by the end of July.

9 July 1847, Henrietta Stockdale born in England.
9 July 1871, First baptism entry – Leonard Hinton – at the Catholic church in Bultfontein by Father Hidien.
9 July 1891, A big explosion occurs at De Beers Head Office, Stockdale Street.
9 July 1897, De Beers CM Diamond Valuator William Bawden dies.

DID YOU KNOW

1936 heralded the beginning of the end of the four year-long depression in Kimberley when Dutoitspan Mine was re-opened, with De Beers at this stage employing only 800 whites and 2000 black workers. At the re-opening of the mine Sir Ernest Oppenheimer advised the people of Kimberley to not live in a Fool’s Paradise in respect to the mines lasting forever.

In the light of Sir Ernest’s remark, Chamber President John Orr said that Kimberley should fight tooth and nail to get railway workshops, while also urging the Government to look at Kimberley as a munitions centre. The latter would become a reality during the war of 1939 – 1945. The council too, attempted to play a part in weaning Kimberley away from diamonds, and put forward a development plan for Kimberley’s future. As a start, they erected a new abattoir and chilling plant, and appointed the town’s very first traffic chief, a Mr David, in 1937.

Traffic had really become a problem, what with the winding roads, and the 4000 cars registered in town were proving a handful. The first traffic lights (robots) were also placed, the chosen spot being the Post Office intersection by the Siege buildings. “Kimberley was not designed as other cities. Indeed it was not premeditated at all, with the result obvious to all, that instead of the chequer board layout which lends itself to systematic control, we have a most amazing series of streets which curve, bisect, end, and turn in the most astonishing manner.”

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

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