Graham Leslie McCallum

The tree of happiness flowers and fruits most abundantly for the creative man

KIMBERLEY MINE – A CHRONOLOGICAL PICTORIAL OF THE BIG HOLE

 

I was born in the city of Kimberley and as a result have always had an interest in all things Kimberley, especially the city’s history. Kimberley is a ‘city’ going through difficult times. The mines have long closed and most of the old residents have left for other brighter horizons. Most of the historic areas of the town now fall into low-income zones with the attendant neglect. A ride through the town will immediately inform the visitor that the present Council is without a clue regarding the value of tourism to the town and quite without any redeeming vision.  I have searched for some positive moderator, and can only find one – that unguarded commercial development can wreck historic buildings and sites far quicker than the degradation resulting from poverty. Many historic towns across the world only survive thanks to the tide of commercialism having passed them by.

While visiting Kimberley, I thought I would pay the old Pioneer Cemetery a visit. I was doing research on the Explorer James Chapman who lies buried in this plot that holds the remains of the oldest of Kimberley pioneers. I was astounded to see that the graveyard was now a dump for local resident’s rubbish. Black refuse bags full of the town’s detritus had been thrown into the yard and many of the graves were vandalised. If the degradation of Kimberley continues, all that will be left are several large mine holes in the barren earth. Correction – perhaps not – for can you believe it – the historic De Beers Mine Hole has been filled with re-washed spoil. The viewing platform is still located in Warren Street, only now with nothing to view. Tick that one off your visitor’s list.

The following is a pictorial tour of the Kimberley Mine, better known today as the ‘Big Hole’. Having its origin in 1871 when diamonds were discovered on a hillock, clumsily named Colesberg Kopje after the hometown of Fleetwood Rawstorne, one of the early diggers. The location was then imprudently nicknamed by the diamond diggers as ‘Diamond Rush’, until proclaimed Kimberley and Beaconsfield by pretentious officials. Now, called by the boring title ‘Sol Plaatje Municipality’ by the politically motivated. I personally like the name ‘New Rush’ – it says it all without any agenda.

And what of that abyss – most people want to know how many diamonds were found, however I am much more interested in the fact that an estimated 22 500 000 tons of earth were chipped, chiseled, picked and bucketed out of that pit. The reason is simply that I was a Mortarist during my two years in the army and had to dig many mortar pits and I know how laborious it is to excavate even a small hole. The rock removed from the Kimberley Mine (called Kimberlite) once stripped of its gems was spread around Kimberley in numerous grey-blue coloured dumps.

The original depth of the open cast workings of the Kimberley Mine is 240  metres, now 215 metres. The water in the mine is 41 metres deep, and from the surface of the water to ground level is 174 metres. When the open cast mining ceased, the miners then sunk shafts and carried on mining to the depth of 1097 metres.

Oh yes! as to the diamonds –  a paltry 2722 kilograms of diamonds were removed, that’s an estimated 14 504 566 carats. All of them to America and Europe. And the proceeds – the major share to rich investors in the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

The Kimberley Mine compared to the Chrysler Building in New York

 

Illustration of Fleetwood Rawstone and his Red Cap party digging for diamonds at Colesberg Kopje, Kimberley Mine

 

An Illustration of Fleetwood Rawstorne and his ‘Red Cap Party’ digging for diamonds at Colesberg Kopje, Kimberley Mine. 1870.

An illustration of Fleetwood Rawstorne and his Red Cap party working Colesberg Kopje, Kimberley Mine

 

An illustration of Fleetwood Rawstorne and his Red Cap party working Colesberg Kopje, Kimberley. Soon this kopje was to disappear as the ground was stripped away and searched for diamonds.

An early photograph of Fleetwood Rawstorne's 'Red Cap' mining atop of Colesberg Kopje (Koppie) circa 1871, Kimberley Mine

 

Very early photograph of Fleetwood Rawstorne’s Red Cap party of Miners working on Colesberg Kopje. This kopje was located on the De Beer Brothers farm Vooruitzicht. This kopje was the outer evidence of the ancient volcanic pipe and was to be mined down to the plain surface and then as an open cast mine to create the (Big Hole). In this photograph are all the tools of the trade -namely wheelbarrow, bucket, sieve, shovel and sorting table. A beard and red cap appears to have been de rigueur too.

Diamond Fields, 1870, Kimberley Mine

Diamond Fields, 1870, Kimberley Mine.

 

A Digger's Camp, New Rush, 1871, Kimberley Mine

A Digger’s Camp, New Rush, 1871, Kimberley Mine.

An early photograph of diamond mining, Diamond Fields, Kimberley Mine 1871

An early photograph of diamond mining, Diamond Fields, Kimberley Mine 1871.

An early Kimberley Mine, diamond mine

‘Work Break’ – Early diamond mining days at New Rush (Kimberley). Loin-clothed black labourers sit down and around several tripots to eat. To the left of the image a small shaft has been sunken with an overhead gantry and winding gear. Sheets of corrugated iron prevent anyone falling into the shaft. The European Prospector sits astride his horse, while a fellow Miner appears to have a tethered baboon. Note the canvass tents  used for sleeping quarters.

Photograph taken from the Kimberley Mine towards the sprawling Kimberley town, 1871

Photograph taken from Colesberg Kopje (Kimberley Mine) down and towards the sprawling mining Camp, 1871. Kimberley.

Kimberley Mine, 1871

A very early view of the diamond fields, 1871. Kimberley. At this time span, the kopje called Colesberg has been removed and processed for diamonds. From this point onwards, the mining surface sinks ever further into the earth, as the miners remove the diamond bearing blueground.

Kimberley Mine in 1871

Kimberley Mine in 1871.

A pen and Ink drawing of the Kimberley Mine 1872

A pen and Ink drawing of the Kimberley Mine 1872.

An illustration of the breaking up of the roadways, Kimberley Mine, 1872 - 1873

An pen and ink drawing that records the breaking up of the roadways that ran between the claims, Kimberley Mine, 1872 – 1873., 1872 – 1873.

Kimberley Mine 1872 aa

Kimberley Mine 1872.

Kimberley Mine 1872 w

The Kimberley Mine in 1873., showing the roadways between the claims used to extract blueground. These roadways eventually began collapsing into the claims, and were eventually removed. Extraction of the ground then was achieved using buckets and winding gear atop a gantry. Note the long ladder in the foreground used to get down to the claim’s working surface.

A Roadway, Kimberley Mine, 1872

A Roadway, Kimberley Mine, 1872.

Kimberley Mine 1872 q

Kimberley Mine 1872.

1872, Kimberley Mine

Kimberley Mine 1872/1873.

Kimberley Mine 1872 ccc

Kimberley Mine 1872.

Kimberley Mine photographed in 1872

Kimberley Mine photographed in 1872. From this image it is evident that wooden beams were scarce and miners had to make use of the branches of trees cut down in the vicinity of the mine. This and the need for firewood denuded the area around Kimberley for miles. As demand for wood rose, supply was provided from the forests of Knysna on the coast. These were transported on ox-drawn wagons and provided employment for many impoverished farmers.

Kimberley Mine, 1872, a year after the digging began

A Roadway, Kimberley Mine, 1872.

Kimberley Mine 1872

The hand powered drums used for winding up the buckets of blue ground, Kimberley Mine. In the left side of this image you can see a man turning the handle on one of these drums. 1872.

Kimberley Mine, 1872

A fascinating 3-dimensional photograph of (New Rush) diamond mine, 1872, showing the individual claims and the roadways in-between and the rough encampment of tents and shacks beyond that was to become the city of Kimberley. In the foreground two miners sit and lean on a sorting table while their black labourers wash gravel. Note the horse and cart on a roadway in the middle ground.

Kimberley Mine c1873 c

Kimberley Mine 1872.

Kimberley Mine, 1870's

Kimberley Mine 1872.

Kimberley Mine, Cape of Good Hope

Kimberley Mine 1873.

Kimberley Mine kk

Kimberley Mine 1872.

 

Painting of Kimberley Mine 1873.

 

Kimberley Mine 1873.

Kimberley Mine c1873 a

Kimberley Mine, 1873.

Kimberley, Kimberley Mine c1873 h

Kimberley and the edge of the Kimberley Mine 1873.

Kimberley Mine c1873 ee

Photograph of Kimberley and the edge of the Kimberley Mine, 1873.

Kimberley Mine iv

Kimberley Mine, 1873.

Kimberley Mine iii

Kimberley Mine 1873.

Kimberley Mine ii

Kimberley Mine

Kimberley 1873.

Kimberley Mine, Cape of Good Hope

Kimberley Mine 1873.

Kimberley Mine c1873 e

 

Kimberley Mine c1873.

Kimberley Mine 1874 bb

Kimberley Mine 1873.

Kimberley Mine c1873 v

Kimberley Mine 1873.

Kimberley Mine, 1873 a

Kimberley Mine (Big Hole), 1873. A fascinating photograph that descriptively allows the viewer an indication of the size of the mine and detailing the individual claims, the ladders, ropeways and workers. This was no place for those with a fear of heights. One can only speculate on how many men were injured or killed during excavations, but they must have been many and frequent.

Kimberley Mine 1873 vii

Kimberley Mine 1873.

Kimberley Mine 1873vi

 

Kimberley Mine 1873.

Kimberley Mine, 1873 ii

Kimberley Mine 1873/1874.

The centre block, Kimberley Mine, 1874

Kimberley Mine, 1873/1874.

Kimberley Mine showing the Steam Pump house below and Reef slips into the mine from the periphery, 1874, Kimberley

Kimberley Mine showing the Steam Pump house below and Reef slips into the mine from the periphery, 1874, Kimberley.

An early Horse-powered Washing Machine, Kimberley Mine, 1874

An early Horse-powered Washing Machine, Kimberley Mine, 1874.

A Rotary Washing Machine, Kimberley Mine, 1874

A Rotary Washing Machine, Kimberley Mine, 1874.

The first Horse Whim (winch), Kimberley Mine, 1874

The first Horse Whim (winch), Kimberley Mine, 1874. From these large wheels, ropes led to the Aerial Trams and down to the working surface of the mine.

Kimberley Mine, 1874 (2)

Kimberley Mine 1874.

Kimberley Mine 1874, cc

 

Kimberley Mine, 1874.

Kimberley Mine, 1878

Kimberley Mine, 1874.

Kimberley Mine 1874 1

Kimberley 1874.

Kimberley Mine c1875 b

Kimberley Mine, 1875.

Kimberley Mine c1875 x

 

Kimberley, 1875.

Kimberley Mine c1875 xi

Kimberley Mine 1875.

Hauling reef from the outer slopes of Kimberley Mine to prevent cave-ins, 1875

Hauling reef from the outer slopes of Kimberley Mine to prevent cave-ins, 1875.

A Pumping Engine in Kimberley Mine 1875

Hauling reef from the outer slopes of Kimberley Mine to prevent cave-ins, 1875.

Kimberley Mine 1875

Kimberley Mine 1875.

Kimberley Mine 1889

Kimberley Mine, 1875.

Kimberley Mine 1875 b

Kimberley Mine, 1875.

Engraving, Kimberley Mine, 1875

Engraving, Kimberley Mine, 1875.

Kimberley Mine after a snow storm, 21 June 1876

Kimberley Mine after a snow storm, 21 June 1876.

Individual Claim Holders, A. Kimberley Mine, 1877

Individual Claim Holders, A. Kimberley Mine, 1877, 1 of 4.

Individual Claim Holders, Kimberley Mine, C.  1877

Individual Claim Holders, A. Kimberley Mine, 1877, 2 of 4.

Individual Claim Holders, Kimberley Mine, B. 1877

Individual Claim Holders, A. Kimberley Mine, 1877, 3 of 4.

Individual Claim Holders, Kimberley Mine, D. 1877

Individual Claim Holders, A. Kimberley Mine, 1877, 4 of 4.

Kimberley Mine, illustrating the reef slump at the edge of the mine, 1878

Kimberley Mine, illustrating the reef slump at the edge of the mine, 1878.

Diamond Market Area, Kimberley, and Kimberley Mine

The Diamond Market Area and the edge of the Kimberley Mine showing slumping of the reef.

An incline tramway for hauling reef out of the Kimberley Mine, 1878

An incline tramway for hauling reef out of the Kimberley Mine, 1878.

Hauling Gear and Jumpers, Kimberley Mine 1878

Hauling Gear and Jumpers, Kimberley Mine 1878.

Kimberley Mine 1880

Kimberley Mine, 1880.

The Kimberley Mine, c 1880

Kimberley Mine, c1880.

Reef falls in the Kimberley Mine, 1881

Kimberley Mine 1882.

Plan showing Claim Holders names, 30 June 1883, Kimberley Mine

Plan showing Claim Holders names, 30 June 1883, Kimberley Mine.

The bottom of the Kimberley Mine, 1885

The bottom of the Kimberley Mine, 1885.

The Standard Company's claim, at the bottom of Kimberley Mine 1885

The Standard Company’s claim, at the bottom of Kimberley Mine 1885.

Loading tubs with blueground at the bottom of Kimberley Mine, 1885

Loading tubs with blueground at the bottom of Kimberley Mine, 1885.

Central Company's Shaft, Kimberley Mine, 1885

Central Company’s Shaft, Kimberley Mine, 1885.

Descending into the Kimberley Mine

Descending into the Kimberley Mine.

Descending into Kimberley Mine 1

Descending into the Kimberley Mine.

Descending into Kimberley Mine

 

Drawing of three men descending into the Kimberley Mine.

Aerial trams and surface chutes, De Beers Mine, 1885 chutes, Kimberley

A remarkable photograph of the Kimberley Mine, showing the edge of the mine and the Aerial Trams, Hauling Gear Rockers and Chutes that raised the buckets holding diamond bearing ground to the surface for processing. This system was also used to remove the unwanted reef that collapsed into the mine and covered working ground.

The Hauling Gear, Kimberley Mine, 1885

The Hauling Gear, Kimberley Mine, 1885.

The French Company's Sling Gear, Kimberley Mine 1885

The French Company’s Sling Gear, Kimberley Mine 1885.

Bottom of the Kimberley Mine, 1886

Bottom of the Kimberley Mine, 1886.

1886, Kimberley Mine

Photograph of Kimberley Mine, 1886.

The last of open mining, Kimberley Mine, 1889

The last of open mining, Kimberley Mine, 1889.

A cheque from the De Beers Consolidated Mines, Limited. for 5 million 338 thousand Pounds, made out on the 18 July 1889, the year after the founding of the company, Kimberley

A cheque from the De Beers Consolidated Mines, Limited. for 5 million 338 thousand Pounds, made out on the 18 July 1889, the year after the founding of the company, Kimberley.

Kimberley Mine 1890

Kimberley Mine, 189.

Drawing of Kimberley Mine, 1902

Drawing of Kimberley Mine, 1902.

Kimberley Mine wq

 

Kimberley Mine nb

Kimberley Mine bv

Kimberley Mine mk

 

Kimberley Mine, 1910

Kimberley Mine, 1910.

Kimberley Mine, Big Hole

Diamond Mine, Kimberley Mine, 1924

Kimberley Mine, 1924.

Kimberley Mine 1921

Kimberley Mine, 1921.

Kimberley's Big Hole, 1937, Kimberley Mine

Aerial photograph of the Kimberley’s Big Hole, 1937, Kimberley Mine.

Kimberley Mine 'Big Hole' 1937, Kimberley Mine

Aerial photograph of the Kimberley’s Big Hole, 1937, Kimberley Mine.

Kimberley Mine, Big Hole

Aerial view of the Kimberley Mine 'Big Hole'

 

The Old Kimberley Mine

Kimberley Mine, Big Hole, 1950's

Kimberley Mine, Big Hole, 1950’s.

Kimberley Mine, Big Hole, c 1975

Big Hole, Kimberley Mine, 1975.

The Big Hole, Kimberley Mine, Kimberley

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This entry was posted on July 3, 2014 by in History, Kimberley.
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