The history of the town Kimberley started with the first diamond finds in South Africa in 1867. The big diamond rush only broke out three years later, when a whole handful of such stones was found on the farm Zandfontein of Nicolaas de Beers. More than 30,000 people came to the area and the de Beers were happy to sell their otherwise not very profitable farm for 6,300 pounds.
The richest finds were made on the colebergkoppies, later the site of the Kimberly Mine. The hole which had contained the first finds, was soon carried off and the prospectors had to drive a shaft into the earth. Over the course of years the deepest hole ever dug by man took shape.
800 claims were cut into the colesbergkoppies which were worked frenetically by thousands of men with in a month. As thousands arrived the hill disappeared and subsequently became known as the “big hole” or formally Kimberley mine.
Claims to the diamond fields were laid by the cape colony, Transvaal, Orange Free state and Griqua leader Nikolaas Waterboer. Mediation was overseen by the governor of Natal; the Keate award went in favour of Waterboer.
On 17 November 1871 the Colonial commissioners arrived in New Rush to exercise authority over the territory on behalf of the cape governor. In September the following year digger objections and minor riots led to Governor Barkly’s visit to New Rush.
New Rush became Kimberly on 5 July 1873.