Kimberley's vintage trams
Did you know?
The Big Hole is 214 metres deep and has a perimeter of 1.6km.
The vintage Kimberley tram dates back to a time when the town was the ‘bright lights, big city’ of Africa. Prospectors from the far corners of the world made their way to diamond-rush Kimberley and transformed a hill where diamonds were discovered in 1871 into the historic Big Hole.
Retailers, drinking spots, houses, gambling joints and dance halls sprang up around the Big Hole and Kimberley became a magnet for adventurers, swindlers, rogues and ladies of the night. By 1887, when the tram first started transporting people to the ever-expanding Big Hole, the town was flourishing.
Now you can take the 20-minute ride on the vintage tram around the Big Hole. The tram is burnt orange in colour, as it has always been, and has been well maintained with its original wooden seats and steering on both sides. 'People come from all over the world to ride this tram because it is so historic and 1 of the oldest trams still operating,' says Victor Mvambo, the tourist information officer for Kimberley’s municipality, which manages the tram.
Tickets are sold on the tram which starts at the Kimberley Mine Museum situated in original and meticulously reconstructed buildings. Here you can experience what it was like for the original diamond miners to go down a mineshaft in a lift or ‘cage’. Simulated dynamite explosions add to the realism.
The Kimberley Mine Museum is home to the Eureka, the 1st diamond discovered in the region and arguably the single most important gem in South Africa’s mining history.
The tram heads from the museum past historical features such as the original mining shaft and the notorious West End bar, which offered a ‘ride-in’ service where horsemen could order a drink without dismounting. The tram journeys round the Big Hole to the viewing deck where visitors have a visceral view into it, before making its way back again.
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Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)53 832 7298
Mobile: +27 (0)73 251 8387