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Jade Davenport

Jade Davenport

DAVENPORT, MA (UCT), is a freelance journalist and historian –

Columnist - Digging Deep

St Barbara – patron saint of miners

By: Jade Davenport     24th February 2012 Mining and agriculture are the two most essential activities that sustain mankind: any material that cannot be grown through agricultural processes is extracted from the earth through the exercise of mining or quarrying. Even those man-made materials that are created in laboratories or factories... 

The dawn of mining

By: Jade Davenport     10th February 2012 In the previous insert of Digging Deep a rather outlandish theory of the origins of mining, suggesting that the activity was first undertaken by a race of alien miners some 400 000 years ago to exploit Earth’s gold resource, was postulated.  

An alternative theory on the origins of mining 

By: Jade Davenport     20th January 2012 Mining is one of the oldest activities exercised by man, the oldest traces of the activity dating back more than 40,000 years.  

A brief history of the Koffiefontein diamond mine

9th December 2011 In the last of the series of articles on the history of early diamond mining, I thought it appropriate to end this particular section of South Africa’s mining narrative with a brief history of the Koffiefontein diamond mine as it belongs to the category of the very first kimberlite pipes... 

The Jagersfontein mine’s famous diamonds

By: Jade Davenport     25th November 2011 Over the last 140 years South Africa’s diamond mines have produced some of the world’s most famous gems, ranking in both size and prestige.  

A brief history of the Jagersfontein diamond mine

By: Jade Davenport     11th November 2011 The history of diamond mining in South Africa has largely been dominated by the narrative of the discovery and development of the De Beers and Kimberley diamondiferous kimberlite pipes and, to a lesser extent, the Bultfontein and Dutoitspan diamondiferous kimberlite pipes, which formed the... 

South Africa’s first school of mines 

By: Jade Davenport     28th October 2011 One of the main consequences of the advent of the mineral revolution, which was prompted by the development and rapid growth of Kimberley’s diamond mining industry in the late nineteenth century, was the introduction of a mining skills education and training system.  

Barney Barnato, a social pariah

By: Jade Davenport     7th October 2011 From its very establishment, the Kimberley Club was an exclusive, highly-vetted Gentleman’s Club.  

The Kimberley Club, sanctuary of the diamond magnates

By: Jade Davenport     16th September 2011 The city of Kimberley has, over its’ 140-year history, become synonymous with all aspects of South Africa’s mining and industrial heritage: it was the birthplace of diamondiferous kimberlite mining and subsequently became the birthplace of modern industrial South Africa, and it was also the... 

The Big Hole and the Kimberley Mine Museum

By: Jade Davenport     2nd September 2011 One of South Africa’s premier tourist attractions of historical and mining importance is the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum. 

Barkly-West Museum a repository of information on early diamond mining

12th August 2011 South Africa has a vibrant and steadily-growing tourist industry catering for every tourism niche, from paleo-, eco- and cultural tourism through to adventure, sport and business-tourism. 

Kimberley’s demeaning closed compound system

22nd July 2011 In 1885, fifteen years after diamonds were first mined at Kimberley, mining companies began to introduce a system of closed compounding to house their black labour force.  

Gardner Williams: the technical wizard behind diamond mines consolidation

By: Jade Davenport     1st July 2011 The objective of establishing the world’s greatest diamond mining monopoly was accomplished because there were men of vision, daring, and great financial genius who willed it to be achieved.  

Alfred Beit – Kimberley’s financial genius

10th June 2011 The story of the amalgamation of the Kimberley diamond mines under De Beers Consolidated Mines in the late 1880s has largely been dominated by the captivating characters of Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato. 

Barney Barnato’s rise to wealth and power

27th May 2011 llicit diamond buying (IDB) was one of the most significant challenges confronting the Kimberley diamond mining industry in the 1870s and 1880s.  

Foundations of the ‘Great Barnato’

By: Jade Davenport     6th May 2011 More than a century after his death Barney Barnato remains one of the most fascinating personalities of nineteenth century mining and economic history. 

Richard Southey – bulwark against monopolisation

By: Jade Davenport     15th April 2011 Histories relating the early decades of diamond mining in South Africa have tended to focus on the most powerful, wealthiest and influential characters that shaped the development of the industry.  

De Beers Consolidated: company ‘worth as much as the balance of Africa’

By: Jade Davenport     1st April 2011 While De Beers is, today, recognised as the world’s leading rough diamond company with unrivalled expertise in the exploration, mining and marketing of quality gems, the company, at its creation more than 120 years ago, was something quite different from just an ordinary mining company. 

Cecil John Rhodes and the monopolisation of diamonds

11th March 2011 During the late 1870s and early 1880s the amalgamation of the numerous diamond mining operations was increasingly recognised as the only solution to ensure the longevity of the industry.  

Cecil John Rhodes and the creation of De Beers Mining Company

By: Jade Davenport     25th February 2011 The vehicle that aided Cecil Rhodes’ meteoric rise from diamond digger to mining magnate and industry monopolist was the De Beers Mining Company. This company (and its successor, De Beers Consolidated Mines) was the centrepiece and major contributor to the great Colossus’ fortunes, imperial... 

Cecil John Rhodes, the diamond digger

By: Jade Davenport     4th February 2011 A rich capitalist, empire-builder, successful politician, farming pioneer, supporter of education, and amazing visionary – each of these epithets describes the multi-faceted, complex, and compulsively energetic man that was Cecil John Rhodes. 

The rise of South Africa’s first mining magnate

By: Jade Davenport     21st January 2011 The plethora of literature relating South Africa’s mining history is dominated by countless biographies narrating the lives and achievements of the country’s great mining magnates.  

How the introduction of steam-powered machinery at diamond diggings revolutionised SA economy

By: Jade Davenport     10th December 2010 The industrialisation of the diamond diggings and the introduction of steam-powered machinery to work the ever-deepening mines from 1877 onwards had a revolutionary effect on the economy of South Africa. 

The mechanisation of South Africa’s early 
diamond mines

By: Jade Davenport     19th November 2010 The industrialisation of South Africa’s economy was initiated by the mining revolution that occurred at Kimberley’s diamond mines in the 1870s.  

A melting pot of nationalities

By: Jade Davenport     29th October 2010 Before the discovery of diamonds in 1869 there was little to attract foreign adventurers, prospectors and capitalists to the shores of South Africa, the predominant activity of economic enterprise being sheep farming.  

An account of labour 
trading on South Africa’s diamond fields

By: Jade Davenport     8th October 2010 The trading or brokering of migrant mine labour, which is currently a contentious socio-political issue, originated on the South African Diamond Fields in the early 1870s.  

South Africa’s first pass laws for migrant workers

By: Jade Davenport     17th September 2010 In the early period of development of the Diamond Fields diamond digging was not a universal fortune-making enterprise.  

Migrancy and African labour in the early days of diamond digging

By: Jade Davenport     3rd September 2010 The special character and course of South Africa’s economic history was profoundly influenced by its unique endowment of human and natural resources.  

Black claim ownership in the early days of diamond digging

By: Jade Davenport     13th August 2010 Racism, discrimination against and dominance over indigenous African tribes by white European settlers has been a prominent and unfortunate characteristic of South Africa’s colonial history. 

Operational challenges and the unsustainability of Diggers’ Democracy

By: Jade Davenport     30th July 2010 During the era of ‘Diggers Democracy’ (1869-1874) diamond mining and production was undertaken by individual diggers on a very small and limited scale.  

Diggers’ democracy – the era of the small-scale digger

9th July 2010 The very earliest stages of diamond production in South Africa was characterised by the economic-political system of ‘Diggers Democracy’. 

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