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The Big Hole Kimberley
Northern Cape

The Big Hole Kimberley

History of the Big Hole, Kimberley

150 years ago, the site of the Big Hole was a featureless, flat-topped hill. Then word spread that diamonds had been discovered. Soon thousands of prospectors, 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 14 August 1914, the mine had yielded 2,722 kilograms of diamonds, extracted from 22,5 million tons of excavated earth.

Find: Accommodation near The Big Hole in Kimberley, Northern Cape   |   Accommodation close to major centres in Kimberley.

The Diamond Exhibition, Kimberley

Inside the Exhibition Centre the multi-faceted story of diamonds is revealed, including the myths and legends of ancient peoples who believed that diamonds have many mysterious powers. The storyline also covers the colonial history of South Africa and the sub-region, which entered a dramatic phase after the diamond rush. Like an epic story, the history of diamonds in South Africa contains episodes of anguish and tragedy.

After walking hundreds of miles from their villages around Southern Africa, many workers were faced with a hard existence in the compounds that were constructed to keep them productive - and prevent theft. Photographs, archive material and original artefacts illustrate the story of diamonds from the past to the present.

Kimberley's Old Town

Historical buildings of the period have been preserved next to the Big Hole. Of these are black smiths, dry goods stores and even home dwellings such as the oldest house in Kimberley. Step inside and encounter the City of Diamonds during the late 1800's.

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Old town in Kimberley Big hole rail mining, Kimberley