Kimberley First in Street Lighting and Stock Exchange in Africa

Fact May 2, 2024
Kimberley First in Street Lighting and Stock Exchange in Africa

Kimberley's Old Town ( Photo: Nomad's Overland Journal )

In the heart of South Africa's Northern Cape Province lies Kimberley, a city with a fascinating history and a legacy of innovation. Known as the "City of Diamonds," Kimberley has a remarkable story as the place where the De Beers diamond empire began. But Kimberley is more than just diamonds—it was also a pioneer in introducing electric street lights and hosting Africa's first stock exchange. Let's dive into the intriguing story of Kimberley.

The Rise of Kimberley: Birth of the Diamond Industry

The story of Kimberley starts with the discovery of diamonds at Colesberg Kopje in 1871. This discovery attracted a huge number of people seeking their fortune, and the small settlement quickly grew into a bustling mining town called New Rush, later renamed Kimberley. The De Beers family became well-known in Kimberley's diamond history, laying the groundwork for a global diamond business. Within a year of the diamond find, Kimberley's landscape changed dramatically with the creation of the Big Hole—a massive pit dug by thousands of miners.

Innovations and Achievements: Electric Lights and Stock Exchange

Kimberley embraced innovation by installing electric street lights on September 2, 1882, becoming the first city in the Southern Hemisphere (and only the second in the world after Philadelphia) to do so. This transformation marked Kimberley's shift from a frontier town to a modern city.

Additionally, Kimberley was a pioneer in finance, hosting Africa's first stock exchange in 1881—the Kimberley Royal Stock Exchange. This helped fuel economic growth and establish Kimberley's importance in the region.

Kimberley's Historical Role: Beyond Diamonds

During the Anglo-Boer Wars, Kimberley played a significant role, leaving a lasting impact on South Africa's history. Today, Kimberley's museums and heritage sites offer a glimpse into its past. The Kimberley Mine Museum Village and Big Hole are iconic attractions where visitors can explore reconstructed buildings and learn about life during Kimberley's mining boom.

Kimberley​​​​​​​'s Old Town


Modern Kimberley: Blending History and Progress

Today, Kimberley is a vibrant city that combines its rich history with modern life. Its museums showcase Khoisan artifacts, preserving local culture. Kimberley's cathedrals, historical buildings, and museums are cherished landmarks that attract visitors from around the world.

Kimberley train station



1. What is Kimberley famous for? Kimberley is famous as the "City of Diamonds" and was the starting point of the De Beers diamond empire.

2. When did Kimberley install electric street lights? Kimberley installed electric street lights on September 2, 1882, becoming the first city in the Southern Hemisphere to do so.

3. Why was Kimberley important during the Anglo-Boer Wars? Kimberley played a strategic role during the wars and endured a 126-day siege by the Boers.

4. What landmarks can visitors explore in Kimberley? Visitors can explore iconic sites like the Big Hole, Kimberley Mine Museum Village, and historical museums showcasing Kimberley's mining history.


Kimberley's journey—from a diamond rush town to a hub of innovation—is a testament to human creativity and determination. Today, Kimberley continues to shine as a city rich in history and a symbol of progress. As the diamond capital of the world and a trailblazer in electric lighting and finance, Kimberley's legacy endures and captivates visitors seeking to uncover its remarkable story.

Source : Eskombritannicakimberleystays

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