British Empire
The rise of the British empire - Africa
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Cover from a booklet called 'South African Gold Fields, Emigrant's Guide, published in London in 1891
(The British Library: 'South African Goldfields')
  • This is the cover to a book published in 1891 to help people thinking of emigrating from Britain to South Africa.
  • It cost one shilling and gave details about the main cities where the gold mines were located. It also gave details about the steamship that would take them to South Africa. Most people would only make a journey like this once in their lifetime, so they were keen to know as much as possible about the trip.
  • Until the discoveries of minerals such as diamonds at Kimberley (1867) and gold at Witwatersrand near Johannesburg in the Transvaal (1886), South Africa had not been seen by Britain as an economic asset and few British emigrants chose it as a destination.
  • It is worth pointing out that the book does not make clear that the gold fields are not actually in British territory. They were in lands controlled by the Boers. These were Africans descended from European settlers in the early 1700s.
  • After a bitter 3 year war Britain eventually won and the Boer republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State became part of the British empire.
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