1899 - 1902



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It may be remembered that in and after 1854, the Boers commenced to block up the path of travellers, and in some cases to cause expulsion of visitors across  the Vaal. Doubtless this policy of expulsion originated in the nefarious traffic in "apprentices, which they wished to carry on uninterruptedly, but there was also another reason for their precautions. Stray discoveries of  gold had been made from time to time, and gold prospectors began to take an uncomfortable interest in the district. Now the Boers had no desire to open up their country to the mining population, or to run any risks which might  interfere with their hardly won independence. After the discoveries of the German explorer Manch, however, they were unable entirely to resist invasion. The ears of the public were tickled. The hint of nuggets in the Transvaal  naturally drew thither a horde of adventurous Europeans who would not be denied. The first immigrants betook themselves to Barberton, and some three or four years later to the Witwatersrandt. These appear mostly to have been  Scotsmen, for President Burgers christened the earliest goldflelds Mac Mac in consequence of the names of the invaders. Miners and speculators of all kinds commenced to pour into those districts, Some to make a fortune as  quickly as possible, and rush off to spend it gsewhere, others to settle themselves in the country and develop schemes for financial outlay, profitable alike to themselves and ty the land of their adoption. Now these permanerit  visitors were scarcely appreciated by the Boers. They foresaw the alien transformed into the citizen, and objected to him. The power which they had acquired, both by long years of hardship and long hours of scheming, they  wished to iceep entirely in their own hands. With the arrival of further settlers they feared this independence would be materially weakened In order that further possible citizens might not be attracted to the Transvaal, the  Volksraad passed a law calculated to damp their ardour. This law imposed on all candidates for the franchise a residence of five years, to be accompanied by register on the Field Cornet's books, and a payment of £25 on  admission to the rights of citizenship.

The first discoverers of the great goldfield are reported to be the Brothers Struben, owing to whose perseverance and patience the Witwatersrandt became the Eldorado of speculators'  dreams. In 1886 this locality was declared a public goldfield by formal proclamation, and the South African golden age began.

In a little while the regions north of the Limpopo began to be investigated, and each in their turn  to yield up their treasures. In 1888 a concession to work mineral upon his territory was obtained from Lobengula, the Matabele king. A year later the British South Africa Company was founded. The Company having obtained its  charter, no time was lost. In 1890, we find the now noted pioneer expedition plying its activities in Mashonaland.

Mr. Basil Worsfold, in a most instructive article in the Fortnightly Review, affords an excellent  insight into the energy that characterised the Company's proceedings -"In the space of three months, a road 400 miles in length was cut through jungle and swamp, and a series of forts was erected and garrisoned by the  Company's forces. After the Matabele war, which occupied the closing months of 1893, the prospecting and mining for gold was commenced in Matabele, as well as in Mashonaland, and at the present time Buluwayo, Lobengula's kraal,  has become the chief centre of the industry. These operations were checked by the revolt of the Matabele and Mashona in 1896, but since that period gold mining has been steadily progressing. The Buluwayo yield for December 1898  amounted to 6258 oz. while that of the four last months-September to December-of the same year was 18,084 oz., of the value of about £70,000!"

The other fields which yield gold are the Transvaal, Lydenberg. and De Kaap  fields, and the Klerksdorp and Potchefstrom fields. The output of these fields continues to grow apace, but how much longer the growth will be maintained is uncertain. The opinion of Mr. Hamilton Smith, who wrote to the Times on the subject in 1895, is worth consideration. He says, "In 1894 the value of the Randt g&d bullion was £7,000,000, and this without any increase from the new deep-level mines; these latter will become  fairly productive in 1897, so for that year a produce of fully £10,000,000 can be fairly expected. Judging from present appearances, the maximum product of the Randt will be reached about the end of the present century, when it  will probably exceed £12,500,000 per annum.

It is interesting to find that Mr. Smith's maximum figrure was already exceeded in the year 1898, when the total yield of gold was 4,295,602 oz., valued at £1 5,250,000!

The  following table, based on Mr. H. Smith's and Dr. Soetbeer's estimates, affords us an opportunity for comparing the South African output with that of other countries, and the world's present supply with that of former years

Of the stimulus given to railway construction by the establishment of the gold industry Mr. Worsfold speaks with authority. He  says, "To-day, Johannesburg-built on land which in 1886 was part of an absolutely barren waste-is approached by three distinct lines, which connect it directly with the four chief ports of South Africa-Delagoa Bay, Durban,  Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town. Of these lines the earliest, which traverses the Free State from end to end, and links the Randt with the Cape Colony, was not opened until July 1892. The Pretoria-Delagoa Bay line was completed  in the autumn of 1894; and the extension of the Randt railway to Charles-town, the connecting-point with the Natal line, was not effected until the following year. These, together with some subsidiary lines, represent a total  of 1000 miles of railway constructed mainly under the stimulus of the gold industry in the Transvaal. To this total two considerable pieces of railway construction, accomplished the interest of the gold industry in the  Chartered Company must be added. Of these, the first extended the main line of Africa from Kimberley successively to Vryburg and in 1890 and 1394, and then finally to Buluwayo in 1897, and the second, the Beira line, by  securing a rapid passage through the 'fly country,' brought Salisbury into easy communication with the East Coast of Africa at the port so named. Taken together, they measure 930 miles. It should be added also that arrangements  are already in progress for the extension of the trunk line from Buluwayo to Tanganyika-a distance of about 750 miles. This will form a new and important link in Mr. Rhodes' great scheme of connecting Cape Town with Cairo."

The telegraph advanced more speedily even than railroads, and the population has kept pace with wire and rail. Johannesburg has a population of 120, 500 souls, and Buluwayo, a savage desert not long ago, has now an European  society of over 5000 persons. It is therefore somewhat questionable if Mr. Froude is justified in his opinion that diamonds and gold are not the stuff of which nations are made. Nations, if they are to expand, must be fed, and  while diamond and gold mines give up of their wealth, we are assured o( sufficient food to foster expansion. That done, it remains merely with the Government of the flourishing nation to decide whether its work shall be little  or large.

It is curious to note that in spite of the disturbance in the Transvaal the mines continued to maintain their position, with the result that the gold output from the Randt for July shows a considerable increase upon  previous months. According to the official figures received from the Chamber of Mines, the returns were as follows
456,474 ozs. for the Witwatersrandt district
22,019 ozs. for the outside district  478,493 Ozs.

The production in June 1899 was 445,763 ozs. for the Witwatersrandt district  2 1,508 ozs. for the outside district In all 467,271 ozs.

And in July 1898  359,343 ozs. for the Witwatersrandt district   22,663 ozs. for the outside district In all 382,006 ozs.

This table shows that during the twelve months since July 1898 the production of gold on the Randt has increased by 100,000 ozs. a month-equivalent to 1,206,000 ozs. a  year. It will be found that, if these returns are compared with the estimates made by competent authorities, the actual output is far in excess of all estimates.