History of Klerksdorp
Crime in Klerksdorp
Other towns in the Klerksdorp district
Klerksdorp originated in the late 1830s when the first Voortrekkers settled on the banks of the Schoonspruit (“ clear stream”) which flows through the town. Prominent among the first settlers was C M du Plooy who appropriated a farm of some 16 000 ha and called it Elandsheuwel( “ hill of the eland “). Other trekkers joined him there and, in exchange for help with the construction of a dam and irrigation canal were granted portions of the farm as well as communal grazing rights on the rest of the land. This collection of smallholdings was later given the name of Klerksdorp in honor of the first landdrost ( magistrate ) of the area, Jacob de Clerq.
A shanty town sprang up virtually overnight on the other bank of Schoonspruit and within three years of the first discovery the “ new town” boasted about 70 taverns and a stock exchange of its own. Before the latter building was put up , “high change” was called at the Exchange Hotel. The diggers of Klerksdorp soon made the same sad discovery as those on the Witwatersrand : the gold was there but it demanded expensive and sophisticated equipment to recover. One by one the Klerksdorp mining companies folded and the diggers moved to tile Witwatersrandsand elsewhere.
The railway from Krugersdorp reached Klerksdorp on 3 August 1897 and that from Kimberley in 1906. Today Klerksdorp is the hub of the gold and uranium mining industry of the Far West Rand.
The 3 500 km² district is also known for its fine herds of Sussex cattle, the town being the headquarters of the South African Sussex Cattle Breeders Association.
The most important crops are maize, sorghum, groundnuts and sunflower seed. Klerksdorp boasts the largest maize silo in the country as well as the largest agricultural co-operative in the southern hemisphere, Senwes Cooperative
This mining town on the Vaal River, immortalized in the Afrikaans television comedy series Orkney Snork Nie, was proclaimed on 20 March 1940 but its history goes back to the gold rush days of the 19th century.
One of the pioneer diggers drawn to the Western Transvaal by the gold discoveries of the late 1880s was Simon Fraser, whose claim was on the farm Witkoppies (white hills ).
Fraser hailed from the Orkney Island off the north coast of Scotland and called his mine Orkney. Hence the name of the town.
Subsequent drilling operations confirmed the presence of the reef which gave very good assay results.
In 1949 Stilfontein Gold Mining Company was registered and a town laid out. Production started in 1952. Today the town is home to men and women employed on four important mines in the area –Stilfontein, Hartebeesfontein, Zandpan and Buffelsfontein.
Because it is relatively young, the town ‘s layout is based on modern town-planning methods concepts and incorporates several parks, gardens and fountains. The four mines jointly developed the Strathvaal Recreation Club.
The second story goes that when in 1837 Voortrekker leader Hendrik Potgieter led a punitive expedition against Mzilikazi’s impis, some of his men were left behind in a laager near here. Bored, one of the men went hunting. He wounded a Hartebeest gave chase and came upon a bubbling spring. After the campaign had ended he returned to the area where he acquired a farm which he named Hartebeesfontein.
In the Anglo-Boer War Hartebeesfontein was the scene of a battle between a Boer commando and Lord Methuen’s forces on 18 February 1901. Prior to this and later the farm changed hands several times. Eventually owner H F Moller subdivided the land for a village which was proclaimed a town.