In April 1908, August Stauch (here above), the railway station master at Grasplatz registered a 6 month prospecting claim of 10 km wide along a 24 km stretch of the Lüderitzbucht-Keetmanshoop railway line.
In May 1908, Zacharia Lewala, who had formerly worked as a coachman in Cape Town and/or on the Kimberley mines picked up a diamond on a stretch of the railway line on which he was working. He reported it to his supervisor and the news was conveyed to Stauch – (Here below Zacharia Lewala).
In September 1908 the German Colonial Government proclaimed the “Sperrgebiet” making a large territory along the coastline from the Oranje River all the way to 26 S and 1oo km from the coastline “Forbidden Land”.
A diamond rush followed. In 1909 Stauch found the Idatal (named after Stauchs wife Ida), a valley where the desert winds made the diamonds visible. In the moonlight men were on their knees and hands picking diamonds from the surface. (Above local miners).
In 1909 mining also started at Kolmannskuppe. The place was named after a British transport driver, called Colman.
During a desert storm he managed to survive but had to abandon his ox wagon. His wagon, standing on a hill (kuppe) became a landmark, named Colmans Hill (Kolmannskuppe) and when a town was built next to the mine the old name was kept although it is actually built on another hill opposite the original Colmans Hill.
Kolmanskop was built in this gem-rich land, in German colonial style, complete with all modern facilities, including a hospital, ballroom, casino, ice factory and sports center. Its tram and x-ray machine were the first in Africa, funded by the diamond wealth.
The Kasino. It was built in 1927 as the last building in the centre of Kolmanskop. It was used for many things. It was a big restaurant, it was a church, a theatre, a sports hall and many other activities took place hear.
The main hall was a sports hall and a theatre among other activities.
“The theatre sponsored visits of shows and operettas from overseas and a 8 – piece orchestra that played for all the formal dances as well as tea dances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. All the ladies turned up in the latest fashions. The club served tea, coffee, beer and spirits while the orchestra played sweet music. Some couples did the tango or one step. The brave ones tried the Charleston”. (Marianne Coleman, daughter of Ou Kat Coleman foreman at Kolmanskop)
This was the residence of the mining engineer Leonhard Kolle who stayed here with his family until 1935 when they moved to Oranjemund. A beautiful house with a huge veranda along the whole building. On the right hand side you see trees. This was not common in a desert town.
Of course there had to be a hospital in a wealthy and organised town such as Kolmanskop. The picture above shows the first hospital in Kolmanskop.
Some of the equipment used is shown in a small room in the ”Old Shop”.
Later on the hospital was enlarged to what it is today.
There were some 40 children in Kolmanskop. Of those 25-30 attended a school in Kolmanskop with classes up to grade 4. The picture above is from 1926. The teacher was Mrs Hussmann. She lived in a nice little house between the architect and the quarter master.
The shopping street – ”Kolmanskuppe Ladenstrasse”.
The town declined after World War I when the diamond-field slowly exhausted and was ultimately abandoned in 1954. The geological forces of the desert mean that tourists now walk through houses knee-deep in sand. Kolmanskop is popular with photographers and filmmakers for its settings of the desert sands’ reclaiming this once-thriving town.
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