Kimberley – Diamond Mining in the Big Hole
One of the most romantic and exciting periods in South African history began near the town of Kimberley in South Africa's Northern Cape Province, the scene of fascinating stories of fortunes gained and lost, of a simple barrow boy and of the son of a country vicar who both found fortune going on to become multi millionaires are legendary and have had a profound influence on South Africa and beyond its borders.
The discovery of a 21 carat diamond in 1866 led to one of the most frantic diamond rushes
ever experienced, with hordes of prospectors and fortune seekers from every corner of the
world pursuing wealth and fame. However, only a lucky few achieved this and among the most colorful
figures were Barney Barnato, the poor London barrow boy, and Cecil John Rhodes, the son
of a vicar, who became mining magnates and found fortune.
Kimberley has much to offer the visiting tourist. Excellent museums portraying early
life on the diamond fields, military history from the Anglo-Boer War, mining museums and
tours, the Pioneers of Aviation Museum & Art museums.
The city of Kimberley also offers modern activities such as golf clubs, bowls, tennis,
excellent shopping facilities and not to be missed is a visit to the ‘Big Hole’ and
Victorian Town open air museum.
Surrounding Kimberley are memorials and sites of some important battles of the
Anglo-Boer War, most notably the Siege of Kimberley in 1899 with the famous 12 kg gun
‘Long Cecil’ on display, and the battlefield site of Magersfontein where the boer
general De La Rey used trench warfare for the first time and the Highland Brigade
were almost annihilated. The museum and battlefield has been preserved with many
relics from the historic battle on display.