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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Different tracks: ambiguities in the development nexus of coal and rail in the Eastern Cape, 1880-1910
Author:Gibbs, Pat
Periodical:South African Historical Journal (ISSN 1726-1686)
Geographic terms:South Africa
The Cape
Subjects:rail transport
coal mining
economic history
Abstract:This article analyses the rise and decline of the Stormberg coal fields situated in the north-eastern Cape colony at the turn of the nineteenth century. These coalfields existed within and were driven by a regional nexus that included the expanding new Cape railway and diamonds (at Kimberley). Indeed, throughout the British Empire, the railway was arguably the single greatest factor in the extension of Victorian capitalism revolutionising transport, communication, urbanisation and economic growth. Entrepreneurial capital had established the town of Molteno in 1874 and by 1884, the eastern railway line reached Molteno. By 1892, the town was linked to Kimberley. As the chief market for coal, the railway brought progress to the region. However, tensions between its own imperatives and those of mining capital led to the steady decline of the mines. In 1908, the Rand gold mines' demand for labour led to their final demise. Yet, little or nothing is known about this aspect of South Africa's mineral revolution and even less about its relationship with the railway. This article will examine the intersection between the rise and fall of the Stormberg mines and the economic imperatives of the Cape Government Railway between 1880 and 1910. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]