Chapter 1 - The Start

The sight of the shiny nugget amongst the muddy gravel must have set Australian prospector, Henry Lewis' heart beating. He had seen similar nuggets in his search for riches as he travelled around the world's gold fields, but as any prospector will tell you, the sight of gold is guaranteed to set your heart racing.

Lewis was excited about the prospect of personal wealth but he could have had absolutely no idea how that particular nugget would change the course of history in South Africa and eventually lead to the establishment of Johannesburg, Roodepoort and Randfontein …how his find would change world history, result in war and shape political events both in South Africa and Europe.

One could say the story of Randfontein starts on 8th April, 1792 in Windlesham, England when Charles Robinson and Mary Eaton tied the knot in what was undoubtedly a hurriedly arranged wedding, as the bride was already five months pregnant. On 1st July that year their first son, Robert John, was born. He was one of nine children. In 1813, at the age of 21, Robert John married 19 year-old Martha Strutt in St Margaret's church, Rochester. During the next seven years she bore him five children.

In 1820 the couple decided to emigrate to South Africa with their five children. They sailed from Gravesend on the Brilliant and arrived in Algoa Bay on 15th May 1820. Initially they were allocated land in the Bathurst district but later moved to erf number 58 Paulet Street, Somerset East where Robinson's occupation was listed as butcher. He later settled in Albany, near Grahamstown, and after some years of unsuccessful farming, moved to Cradock, where he became a builder in 1837.

The couple had ten more children, the 14th of which was Joseph Benjamin, born in 1840 in Cradock.

JB Robinson would play a pivotal role in the history of Randfontein.......

This book covers events from the early 1800's to 2004. It was written by local resident Hilton Hamann, a journalist and author of two other best-selling books, including DAYS OF THE GENERALS, the untold story of South Africa's apartheid-era military generals. His work has been published in over 55 countries.

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