The Hole That Became a City
The Hole That Became A City

Diamond rushes in South Africa were often unpredictable;
devastating on the environment and often disappeared as
quickly as a Highveld storm. The first rush (1869) started
when diamonds were discovered in the walls of a
farmhouse. Diggers pulled the house down, pegged out the
area around the house and eventually left the area with
only a large hole in the ground.

About 2 years after the first, another rush started when
diamonds were discovered on a small hillock close to the
first discovery. The frantic rush caused the small hill (koppie)
to disappear and to be replaced by a hole. However, this
rush never came to an end and the hole grew bigger and
bigger. Around the verges of ``The Big Hole" buildings
sprang up and kept on expanding. The city of Kimberley was

Nobody could possibly have dreamed that the koppie
would become the vigorous pit of the Kimberley Mine.

There was no end to the diamonds and people became
unbelievably rich. According to stories successful diggers lit
their cigars with bank notes whilst their women bath in
champagne. Kimberley became the gathering place for the
``new aristocracy"   mainly swindlers, rogues, adventurers,
Madames and other characters. From this two famous
``diamond giants", Cecil John Rhodes and Barney Bernato,

Kimberley became a very bright place. Races, lotteries,
ballrooms, boxing booths, pubs, merry-go-rounds and dance
halls flourished. It was the first city in Africa to have
electrical streetlights. In 1887 a tramway started to
operate. The Halfway and West End Hotels offer a ride-in bar
service. Horsemen could order a drink without even

Places to Visit

The Big Hole Museum  the hole in itself is an extraordinary
site and is surrounded by a reconstructed town dating from
the days of Cecil Rhodes.

McGregor Museum  displays a large selection of historical
objects including a selection of Bushmen relics.

Duggan-Cronin Gallery  houses 8000 photo's of African
customs, exhibits of ethnological interest as well as

Humphreys Art Gallery  exhibits of South African and
European art.

Public Library  collection of Africana and material on the
history of the diamond rush.

South Africa's First Flying School  outdoor display of the
county's first flying school.

De Beers Mine  treatment and recovery plants are open to

The Big Hole

When the diggers started to work the Kimberley diamond
pipe, nobody knew how deep it would go. The deeper the
workings the more complicated life became for the
diggers. It resembled the inside of an ant heap. Up to 30 000
men were working day and night to clear the rubble and

At the turn of the century the Hole was about 160 meters
deep with an outside diameter of about 1200-meter. When
mining stopped it was about 800 meters deep and more
than 14 million carats of diamonds have been extracted.
Encounter South Africa
Old Time Kimberley
The Big Hole - much of it
now filled with water
Descent by rope in
the 1800's
From:  freeyouthministry
A Small Comunity is Kimberley South Africa -
Video below
Click on the thumbnail to preview
the book
South Africa
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