Kimberley, South Africa


Steinberg, Mark

Steinberg, Mark: son of Alma nee Frank

of Kimberley – then Johannesburg now Auckland. May 2108

A large and enjoyable part of my childhood memories revolve around Kimberley. From as far back as I can remember my grandparents. Hannah and Jack Frank lived on the 5th floor at number 511 Lyndale flats, Lyndhurst Road.

I remember the 5th floor as it was always such a treat to press the button in the lift to go up to their floor. Growing up in Johannesburg, we drove many times to Kimberley. At 6 years old I was given the treat of flying as an unaccompanied minor to Kimberley to stay with my grandparents.  (See Hannah and Jack’s wedding picture for 1939 in Volume 1 of the Wedding Gallery)

I loved those Kimberley holidays. We would visit all the relatives (well, as I found out later, most of them). My grandmother Hannah (nee Bergman)’s sisters, Hilda, and Beryl. Eileen, the youngest sister moved to Johannesburg when her husband Archie Sandler became a teacher at King David High school. We also saw my Grandfather Jack Frank's sister Rae Melunsky and her family.

I have fond memories of sipping my Fanta Orange with ice while my grandparents sipped their stronger drinks. I remember freezing cold mornings and stifling hot summers depending on what time of the year we went. So, it was with great anticipation that I took my wife and 2 children there at the beginning of last year after a 35-year absence. 

Driving from Cape Town in January 2017, we drove through some familiar towns. Upon arriving in Kimberley, I was immediately struck by a large shopping complex that definitely would not have been there when I was there last. Just driving randomly, I almost drove straight into Lyndale Flats. "Those are the flats" I yelled excitedly but my wife and kids who had had a long drive from Beaufort West did not share in my excitement. They just wanted to get to our destination. The Kimberley Club.

Oh yes, I had heard much about this famous landmark (that had harboured more millionaires to the square yard than any other place in the world in its heyday) but had never gone there as a child. We parked the car and being unsure of the area, thought it best to get in to the Club as soon as possible. We were shown to our luxurious colonial room, but the excitement was short lived as we could not get the air-conditioning to work and the early January temperatures were sweltering. After much ado, found out that the air-conditioning was broken so we moved to the family room across the road – also part of the Kimberley Club. (I wonder how all those millionaires managed in Kimberley without air-con – or how our families did for that matter.)

My mother had given me Barney Horwitz, the Chairman of the Congregation’s details and I had been in contact with him and had planned to go to the Friday night shul service. As time was running short after the delays mentioned above, we went to try and get some food quickly for the kids. Driving around the block I found a Steers. Perhaps unsurprisingly I was the only white person there and the queues were horrendous. Decided that Shul was not going to happen and aborted the Steers plan and we went to the Club and had a nice dinner on the porch. I sent a txt to Barney apologising.

The next morning, I was up early and parked my car on Lyndhurst Road and walked passed Lyndale flats. From the outside they looked much the same as I remembered them but alas I could not go in to press the button to the 5th floor as there was now a security gate. Another sign of the times. I walked passed the fire station (remembering watching the Tuesday morning training and how they would sound their sirens at midnight on New Year’s Eve – Old Year’s Eve as my grandparents called it.) I walked round the back of the flats and strained with my failing eye sight to read 511 from behind the fence.

Further up the road another memory, ‘The Monument’ - (well that's what I called it). Googling it, it’s called the ‘Memorial to the Honoured Dead’ (commemorating those British soldiers and citizens that died in the siege of Kimberley in the Anglo Boer war). For me, it had just been a landmark - something to look at from my bedroom window. I took a walk up towards it, passing Kimberley Boys High - that from the fence still looked like an impressive school.  At the base of the Monument is a gun ‘Long Cecil’. It was named after Rhodes who was trapped in Kimberley during the siege. He got his American engineer in the De Beers works, Mr Labrum, to design and make it – to respond to the surrounding Boers ‘Long Toms’. Ironically, not long after, Labrum was killed in his room at the Grand Hotel by a shell from one of those Long Toms

After that I drove through the old town looking in vain for the John Orr’s Department store which had the best lift in the world with a lift operator!  Then I went back to wake the family and we headed off to the Big Hole and Open Mine Museum. I had been there as a child, but it had definitely been revamped and was a very worthwhile experience.

We then went to the Shul to meet Barney. Although they only hold a service there on a Friday night, Barney had kindly offered to meet us there and show us around. What a magnificent Shul it is. Barney told us about some of the history and where the people are today which was fascinating. 

They still manage to have a Friday night service every week. I was able to see a photo of my late grandfather Jack Frank and see the shul where my parents (Alma Frank and Arnold Steinberg) had got married 50 years before almost to the day. (See their wedding picture for 1966 in volume 2 of the Wedding Gallery)

We went back to the Club for a rest stopping at 22 Milner Street to see the house, on the corner of Synagogue street, still with its white railings, that my grandmother's father Jacob Bergman and his wife Amalia had lived in. from about 1915 to 1945.

In the late afternoon we went for a drive stopping at Carrington Road to see the familiar house where my grandmother’s sister Beryl and her husband Noel Kretzmar had resided. I remembered playing in that large house with big grounds and sitting beside a crackling fire on a cold winters night. I remember sitting on their large veranda on hot summers days and my (great) Uncle Noel telling me he had drained the pool for safety because his grandson Seton was coming to stay.

We drove past the house also on Carrington Road where my mother Alma and her sister Brenda now Danilowitz living in Connecticut, had grown up. Walking down that road it was hard to imagine that anything had changed in the last 35 years. A beautiful tree-lined dual carriageway, very wide and quiet.

On the way back, we stopped at the beautiful red brick Kimberley Girls High School, that my Grandmother and all her extended female family had attended. We also tried to identify my Great-Aunt Rae’s house in Milner Crescent, but a lot of them looked similar to my memory of it

That night I came down with food poisoning which put a damper on things. The next morning Barney came round to the Club and bought me some mint tea, before taking us out to the Jewish Cemetery. 

Sadly, this is where those we knew in Kimberley now reside. We visited my Grandmother Hanna’s Grave. And from there we said farewell and started our 5-hour drive to Johannesburg.

(See the complex history of the extensive Frank family of Kimberley written by Sheila Grant (nee Frank) here:

Pictured here are Mika, Alma, Mark, David and Mandi Steinberg, Auckland, New Zealand, 7 May 2018.