Information and history

ID #2659

Steve’s Kimberley, Diamond Fields, Northern Cape.

Not too many know that the South African Rugby Board (now Union) was formed in the Craven Hotel in Kimberley in 1889. The first Chairman of the Board was a Kimberley man, Percy Ross Frames, who was also Chairman of the Griqualand West Rugby Board as well as a first-class referee. Rugby began in the area when games were played among the heaps of debris, and one club even had a field on top of the dumps.  However, organised rugby only began in 1886 with the formation of a local board. There were six teams that year – West End, East End, Rovers, Kimberley, The Pan (Beaconsfield), Pirates and Newton. West End won the trophy that first year. Of the original teams, only Pirates remains (but is known by another name), although De Beers Rugby Club, originally formed in 1886, still plays today.

The most famous of all Griqua grounds – i.e., Kimberley and known as the KAC grounds, is no more.  Still in existence a few years ago when it was used as a circus ground, it is now a modern diamond cutting works. 

What made the ground so famous is that over 50 years many international teams played there, when Kimberley was the most powerful rugby team. Another equally famous ground is the Electric Cricket Ground (now the Karen Muir Swimming Pool) because the second rugby test played in South Africa was played there. South Africa lost 7-0 to the British Isles.  Griqualand West played the tourists two days later, losing by 3-0. The latter was the closest the British Isles came to defeat on that tour, and they awarded the Currie Cup to Griqualand West, who donated the cup to the South African Rugby Board as a floating trophy in 1892.  Griquas, expecting to win, had to wait until 1899 before winning again. They won the competition in 1911 and in 1970 they beat the mighty Northern Transvaal at the De Beers Stadium.

SIGHTSEEING

•    Africana Library: Originally the Kimberley Public Library, it is now one of Kimberley’s finest research libraries and concentrates on the Northern Cape and Kimberley. Open Mondays through Fridays. On the Du Toitspan road.
•    Big Hole: The largest man-made hole in the world, where Colesberg Kopje once stood. Adjacent to the Kimberley Mine Museum.
•    Sailor Malan: The famous Battle of Britain pilot farmed outside Kimberley after WWII and is buried in the West End Cemetery.     
•    Cape Police Memorial: A superb memorial to police who died during the Anglo-Boer War. An Armstrong gun captured by the British at Dronfield is part of the memorial.
•    Cecil Rhodes: He was responsible for amalgamating the diamond mines.  Formerly Premier of the Cape, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was named in his honour. There is a statue of Rhodes on the Du Toitspan road. The Kimberley Club, the McGregor Museum and others have Rhodes memorabilia.
•    City Hall: A national monument that was saved from demolition in the 1970’s – on Market Square.
•    Concentration Camp Memorial: On Hertzog Square in Long Street. A memorial to the women and children who died in the camp during the Anglo-Boer War.
•    De Beers Boardroom: Now the headquarters of the National Monuments Council of the Northern Cape.  Cecil John Rhodes used it before amalgamation of the mines in 1888.
•    General Ken van der Spuy: The ashes of this 99-year old general, one of South Africa’s first pupil pilots, are interred in a memorial to the Pioneers of Aviation at Alexanderfontein.
•    Honoured Dead Memorial: A tomb commemorating those British soldiers who lost their lives during the Siege of Kimberley.  Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, the inscription is by Rudyard Kipling.  On Memorial Road.
•    Jewish Synagogue.  The only synagogue in the world that has a diamond-tipped scroll pointer. Two memorials to the Jewish fallen during the Anglo-Boer War and WWI. On Memorial Road.
•    Long Cecil Gun: Designed and built during the Siege of Kimberley by George Labram and De Beers respectively.  On the stylobate at the Honoured Dead Memorial.
•    Bird Haven: One of Kimberley’s hidden treasures. Within sight of the parking area at the Big Hole. Enjoy refreshments in the company of exotic birds and other creatures.
•    Kamfersdam Bird Sanctuary: Originally known as Dibel’s Vlei, it is a natural wetland that attracts hundreds of different birds. A natural heritage site on the outskirts of Kimberley.
•    Kimberley Club: A living memorial to the early pioneers and mining magnates of Kimberley, and Cecil John Rhodes in particular. One of the most famous clubs in the world.  It is a private club but visits can be arranged -- +27 (53) 832 4224
•    Magersfontein Battlefield: Approximately 30-km outside of Kimberley. Numerous memorials to both British and Boer fallen. +27 (53) 831 6711

LEISURE ACTIVITIES

•    Bowls: There are many clubs in town, including South Africa’s oldest – the Kimberley Town Bowling Club.
•    Caravanning: There are two in Kimberley – the Big Hole and Kimberley.
•    Golf: The Kimberley Golf Club, founded in 1890, is an 18-hole championship course. On the N12.
•    Horse Racing: Regular meetings are held at the Griqualand West Racetrack 6-km outside Kimberley on the R64.
•    Langleg and Riverton: On the Vaal River 30-km from Kimberley. Two resorts boast fishing, canoeing, fishing, swimming, caravanning and camping. Chalets available.
•    Settlers Pub: Next to the first self-service bottlestore in South Africa. It was formerly the Tom and Cecil Pub, one of Kimberly’s greatest.
•    Star of the West: Kimberley’s oldest pub. Enjoy an ice-cold draught in Diamond Lil’s place. The tram stops on request.
•    Old Diggers Restaurant: Attached to the Gum Tree Lodge, on the R64.
•    Subway Sun: Beaconsfield’s grand old hotel pub brings back memories of the Wild West. Traditional pub lunches in the company of several Kimberley characters.
•    The Half: The second of Kimberley’s drive-in bars, halfway between the mining camps of Du Toitspan and New Rush mining camps.
•    The Kimberlite: The second of Kimberley’s drive-in bars, it boasts a restaurant as well as pub lunches. Opposite the microwave tower.
•    Africana Books: New and second-hand books at the Rhodes Boardroom on Warren Street.  +27 (83) 732 3189 telephone

Kimberley is on the N12 northeast of Britstown, which is at the intersection of the N12 with the N10. BHSteve

Contct:         Steve’s Tours
+27 (53) 831 4006 telephone
+27 (83) 732 3189 cell
e-mail: stevestours@kimberley.co.za



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Last update: 2014-05-11 23:15
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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