Due to popular demand, we are heading south to the historic town of Kimberley. Our Super luxury air conditioned coach will depart from the Sunnysidepark Hotel Parktown at 5h30 sharp on Saturday Morning 16th April 2016, we ask you to be there at least half an hour before departure. From Parktown we will take the N12 heading to Kimberley via Potchefstroom, Klerksdorp, Wolmeranstad, Bloemhof & Christiana. (A packed breakfast will be served on the Coach). We should arrive in Kimberley around 11h30, we will then book in at The Airport Hotel, our home for the next few days, have a light lunch before heading out.
After lunch we are back on the coach joined by our local guides, our first visit is The Synagogue, built in 1902. This Synagogue was designed by D.W. Greatbatch, to replace the previous Synagogue of wood and iron. On entering you will be awe struck by the beautiful and costly Ark designed by Mr Bocciarelli the father of the first woman to be trained as a pilot in South Africa.
From the Synagogue we visit the Honoured Dead Memorial. The Memorial, designed at the insistence of Rhodes by architect Sir Herbert Baker. The memorial commemorates those that died during the Siege, and is the tomb of 27 soldiers. At the base of the monument stands the famous “Long Cecil” gun which was manufactured during the siege by the De Beer’s Workshop. We will have the unique opportunity to see the Memorial from the inside, before visiting The McGregor Museum. At the Museum we will be the guests of the Kimberley Historical Society. The building in which the museum is housed was originally The Kimberley Sanatorium which was built at the instigation of Rhodes and completed in 1897. During the Siege, Rhodes occupied a suite of rooms, and received General French & Major Haig in the drawing room, (currently the shop), when they brought news of the relief. The permanent displays reflect the changes of our times. Exhibitions include natural history of the Northern Cape, human history from 3 million years ago to modern times, the siege and relief of Kimberley, the convent school display and the history of the Kimberley Regiment among others. Then it’s back to the hotel for dinner and a good night’s rest.
Day Two... After a good English breakfast we head for the big hole. 150 years ago, the site of the big hole was a featureless flat topped hill, known as Colesberg Koppie, when the word spread that diamonds had been discovered. Thousands armed with nothing more than picks, shovels and hope descended on Kimberley and created the largest hand dug excavation in the world.
Digging commenced at the Kimberley Mine site in 1871, by the time mining ended on the 14th August 1914 the mine yielded 2722 kg of diamonds extracted from 22.5 million tons of excavated earth. Today what remains is a massive crater 214 metres deep with a surface area of 17 hectares and a perimeter of 1.6km.
A new suspension viewing platform has been erected, giving a bird’s eye view of the hole’s remarkable scale and grandeur. The platform is 30 Cape feet wide and 30 Cape feet long – exactly the size of a 19th century mining claim.
We will visit the vault. Amongst the gems on display is the famous 616 named after its carat weight. This is the largest uncut octahedron diamond in the world. Eureka the shiny little stone found on the banks of the Orange River in 1867 is also on show. We will visit the underground mine, a recreation of a mine shaft of the period. We will view a short film which tells the story of the diamonds of Kimberley dating from when curious children picked up a shiny stone on the banks of the Orange River. We will walk through the streets of the old mining town. Then back on the bus for a short drive through the town to the Kimberley Club.
The Club was founded in August 1881. Leading men in Kimberley wanted a meeting place along the lines of London clubs. Cecil John Rhodes was the prime mover. Some of the original members included Cecil Rhodes, his partner D. Rudd and Dr Leander Starr Jameson, as well as mining magnates Lionel Phillips and J. B. Robinson. The early club rules included “no women in the club” “no dogs on the premises” and “no smoking in the dining room, this was later changed to no smoking until one hour after the commencement of the meal” Rhodes and Jameson were heavy smokers. We are pleased to announce that women are now allowed, and we will be lunching there, after a walk through the club.
After lunch we head out to Magersfontein. The Anglo Boer war began on the 11th October 1899. Within 4 days Kimberley had been besieged by Boer soldiers. It was imperative to break the hold of the Boers on the town. British troops were moved up from the south using the existing railway to Kimberley, the Boer troops moved along the line to meet the British forces. At the battles of Belmont, Graspan & Modder River both forces gave a good account of themselves. The Boers elected to fall back towards Magersfontein ridge – where they entrenched themselves. We relive the battle with the local specialist guides.
Day Three - We will walk through the beautiful and historical suburb of Belgravia, on route we will encounter the old Kimberley life style and characteristic architecture, some magnificent monuments and statues. Some of the highlights of the walk are Sister Henrietta Nursing College. We will visit the small chapel with its magnificent stained glass windows.
We will call in at the Masonic Temple erected by the combined lodges which at present own and occupy it. We will visit the Cities Cathedral, the Church of St Cyprian the Martyr. We will visit Rudd House originally known as the The Belgravia historical Walk 5 Bungalow. We will pass by no 7 Lodge Road built for Ernest Oppenheimer and the birth place of Harry.
Lunch at Edgerton House. We will visit the magnificent home of Mr John Orr, “ Dunluce”. We will visit the Duggan – Cronin Photographic Gallery , and if time permits a general drive looking at the towns historical buildings.
Day Four - After a good breakfast, we will visit the Kimberley Africana Library. One of the best and most interesting research libraries in South Africa. It contains a wealth of material on Africa, the Northern Cape and Kimberley. There are also special collections of old and rare books. The Library opened in 1887 and the building retains many of the original features like a wrought iron gallery, a spiral staircase and antique furniture. You will also have the opportunity to by books at very reasonable prices.
From the library we head off to the present –day De Beers Board Room at De Beers Consolidated Mines Head Office. Here we get an insight into the history and working of the mighty diamond industry. After our fill of art we head home stopping off at the Kamfer Dam the home of the Lesser Flamingos. Then it is back on the coach heading for home.
As seating and accommodation are limited, please let Eira (011 482 3349) know as soon as possible if you would like to join us so that we can reserve a place for you. Please also let her have your full contact details so that we can send any final instructions, as well as a questionnaire about any special needs you may have.
The cost of the tour will be R3 900.00 per person sharing, with a supplement for single accommodation of R570.00 extra per person. So if you have a good friend it pays to share. The price includes transport, all meals accommodation and outings. So in fact all you have to buy are your drinks.
Note: The itinerary is subject to change. We look forward to having a fun time with you. Payment is due before end of March 2016