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Benoni Bygones: The early beginnings of Kleinfontein Mine

The Benoni Bygones history piece is compiled by Glynis Cox Millett-Clay.

The City Times is proud to revive a monthly history piece compiled by local history enthusiast Glynis Cox Millett-Clay, which she has named Benoni Bygones.

Glynis Cox Millett-Clay.

New Kleinfontein Mine was initially founded as Kleinfontein Mine in 1888, just north of Benoni Gold Mines, where gold was discovered in 1887, and south of the Chimes Mine (founded in May 1888).

One of the early managers of Kleinfontein Mine was Sir Charles Crewe, a later owner of the East London newspaper Daily Despatch.

Crushing at Kleinfontein Mine began in 1889 with a 25-stamp mill. The Chimes Mine, Benoni Gold Mines, Kleinfontein Mine and Van Ryn Mines all ran into difficulties in 1890.

Early mining operations.
The main offices of New Kleinfontein Mine.

The offices of New Kleinfontein Mine.

Kleinfontein Mine closed down that year and in 1893, the company was re-formed as New Kleinfontein Gold Mining Company, with capital raised by George Farrar and the Anglo-French Exploration Company.

In 1895, the George Farrar Syndicate bought the farm Kleinfontein (on which the town Benoni was later developed) and built the Homestead and Kleinfontein dams.

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The first manager of the re-constituted New Kleinfontein Mine was a Cornishman, Pengelly. In 1898, Pengelly was succeeded by E J Way.

After the Anglo-Boer war, the mine expanded by buying neighbouring mines Apex and Benoni Consolidated (which incorporated Chimes and Chimes West).

As with the case of ERPM in Boksburg, New Kleinfontein was the longest-lasting mine in Benoni.

In 1906, New Kleinfontein Hospital was opened as the first hospital in Benoni.

Between 1909 and 1910, the company built their power station on the banks of Kleinfontein Dam.

Between 1909 and 1910, the company built their own power station on the banks of Kleinfontein Dam.
The power station ash heap.

At the time, the chairperson of New Kleinfontein was William Dalrymple, who founded the Transvaal Scottish Volunteer Regiment in 1902.

Dalrymple is remembered for later forming the South African Scottish contingent that fought at Delville Wood in World War I.

The brick headquarters of New Kleinfontein were for many years a feature of Benoni, standing just south of Main Reef Road, where Mackenzie Park is today.

New Kleinfontein Gold Mining closed in 1929, with shares worth only pennies and the company was taken over by George MacKenzie in 1931.

By 1963, ore reserves were mined out and the mine gave notice of closure.

In 1964, Brakpan Mine was acquired and staff were moved to Brakpan.

The headquarters building and workshops were demolished and MacKenzie Park Township was developed where the mine had been.

Mining ceased at Benoni in 1964 and at Brakpan in 1967.

(Article from the Boksburg Historical Association by Peter Wood).

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