Cullinan Historical Tour

Cullinan Diamond Mine Village early development as covered on Ekala’s mine tours

Historical Tour of the Cullinan Premier Diamond Mine.

Cullinan History Tours and Cullinan Mine Village Heritage Tourism.

Oak avenue Cullinan - Ekala’s mine tours

Private collection and drop off – supplied as a fully guided professional tour covering en-route as may be possible from collection to drop off. As a result, not simply a point to point transfer with a driver.

Historical photo across the early Cullinan village with mine in background – discussed as part of Ekala’s Cullinan mine tours
Cullinan Historical Premier Hotel 1906 as covered on Ekala’s mine tours

Cullinan Historical Tour

The Cullinan village with many fine buildings surviving from the early days of the mine in the early 1900’s. Mc Hardy House – the first house built in Cullinan (1903) and preserved in original state. The Herbert Baker Anglican Church, Recreation Centre built in 1912 and the 1909 Masonic Hall.


View the mine hostels/compounds which housed the mine workers in the early 1900s. Built to house over 12 000 black mine workers, segregated under colonial and apartheid laws. Site invisible to most tourists visiting Cullinan.


View the recently moved fountain constructed by the Italian prisoners of war (1945).


The Italian Prisoner of War Camp and view murals painted by POWs during the Second World War, Prisoner of War cemetery, the old hospital and other heritage sites in and around Cullinan Village.


The unique village of Cullinan (east of Pretoria), named after Thomas Cullinan, (one time bricklayer and later influential building contractor) bears the distinction of being the discovery site of the world’s largest diamond.

Premier Mine (Cullinan diamond mine) early photos of operations – Ekala mine tours

A unique heritage tour of Cullinan’s history – an absolute must see!

Premier Mine (Cullinan diamond mine) surface operations within big hole – Ekala mine tours

Ekala Eco Tours offer Cullinan Historical tours as part of a Cullinan Mine underground or Cullinan surface tour.

Ekala’s Cullinan day tours are generally structured to spend some time covering the area historically. However depends on actual tour booked and time available/allocated.


To be able to structure a tour around your requirements and time available – we need to be supplied with clear timing and collection and drop off address – hotel name. If one of the points is the airport – I need full flight details.


Once we have these it will be possible to quote/advise and structure a day or multi day package around your requirements/timing.


  • Cullinan surface tour – we recommend the surface drive – covers a far greater area of the mine and is thus able to go more in depth the mining process and the mines specific operations.
  • Cullinan Underground Tour – this does take far more time than the above surface tour – so generally may only fit in a mini historical tour.
  • Pretoria Tour – perfect with the Cullinan surface tour – but can on occasions do a Pretoria drive through after the Cullinan underground tour.
  • Johannesburg Gold Tour.
  • Sammy marks Museum.
Cullinan Diamond
Premier Mine (Cullinan mine) early diamond sorting tables - Ekala mine tours
Premier Mine – Cullinan diamond mine – first board of directors 1903
Cullinan’s first mine general manager William McHardy, with family.
Early photos showing only a small part of Cullinan’s early black labour force
Cullinan Diamond Mine Village early development including Nedbank’s Cullinan building - as covered on Ekala’s mine tours
Early photos showing some of the early Cullinan village – discussed as part of Ekala’s Cullinan mine tours
Cullinan Diamond Mine first school as covered on Ekala’s mine tours
Cullinan Diamond Mine Village early development including Nedbank’s building - as covered on Ekala’s mine tours
Premier Mine – big hole at the end of surface mining – around 1938 – discussed as part of Ekala’s Cullinan mine tours

Cullinan Mine and Village timeline:

Early Years

1859: The area registered as part of the Cornelis Minnaar Farm – no. 85 Elandsfontein.

1861: Portion of farm sold to Roelof Minnaar 1896: Northern part of this section of the farm sold to Willem Prinsloo for £570.

1897 Thomas Major Cullinan tried unsuccessfully to buy the Prinsloo farm.

1898: Willem Prinsloo died – Maria Prinsloo became the new farm owner – this shortly before the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War.

1898-1902: Anglo Boer War. 1902: The Prinsloo family was in a financial crisis – . Thomas Cullinan took advantage and started new negotiations to buy the farm – the family agreed to an outright sale for the sum £52,000.

Mining operations start:

1902: First registered as the Premier Syndicate, month later changed to the Premier (Transvaal) Diamond Mining Company LTD with Thomas Cullinan as chairperson.

1903: Prospecting started with William Mc Hardy becoming the first mine general manager, arriving in Cullinan with his wife and seven children.

1903: The open pit had already reached a depth of 15 meters, with a white workforce numbering 100. Many of these were soldiers remain in South Africa after the recently ended Boer War.

1903: First steam plant, comprising of three rotary pans, known as No.1 gear, was commissioned.

1904: The Cullinan mine employed more than 2000 people.

1905: Diamond with the mass of 3,106 carats was found in the sidewall of the open pit. The stone, named the Cullinan Diamond, was bought by the then Transvaal government.

The mine second gear was constructed. Both numbers 1 and 2 gears would remain in commission until 1909.

First school in Cullinan opened in a tent, soon to be moved to the newly built recreation club.

The Cullinan hotel was built.

Three rugby and two football teams existed in Cullinan, as well as three tennis clubs in the Cullinan area. The premier Mine Golf course was opened by the daughter of the mine general manager.

First burial in Cullinan. 39 of the first burials in Cullinan were for children younger than 1 year old. Cullinan’s cemetery has two sections, one for Catholics and one for everyone else.

1906: Close to three million loads of ground were extracted from the Premier Diamond Mine pit, yielding nine million metric carats of diamonds.

1906: Decision to build a dam for the mines use – at the point where the Bronkhorst and Wilge Rivers met, 26 miles from the Premier Diamond mine.

1907: Cullinan Railway station was built and the opening of the hospital, still today catering to the needs of the village and mine-workers.

1908: Cullinan Diamond cut by Joseph Asscher of Amsterdam and presented to King Edward. The Cullinan Diamond is still the largest gemstone ever found. The 2 main stones cut from the Cullinan Diamond are now found in the British Crown Jewels, the Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa. Are on display at the tower of London.

1908: The Presbyterian Church became the first church to be built in Cullinan.

1909: Masonic Lodge built and Premier Diamond Mine co-operative Society formed, building several shops.

Number 3 and 4 gears were built and numbers 1 and 2 gears were dismantled.

Recreation club burnt down due to a lightning strike.

1912: Recreation club rebuilt, a superb stone building.

First World War Years

1914: Over 3 hundred European employees of the Diamond mine were discharged for provoking industrial disturbances.

1914: Outbreak of World War 1 – diamond prices plummeted and the Premier Diamond mine suspended all operations. Forty-one men from the Premier Diamond mine died during the war.

1916: Production resumed at the Premier Diamond Mine.

1917: De Beers Consolidated Mines acquired the controlling interest in Premier Diamond mine.

1918: Cullinan village community tragedy affected by the world wide virulent influenza epidemic.

Pre and time of second World War

1929 Great depression – staring in America and affected the rest of the world.

1932: Premier Diamond mine suspended operations due to the world wide depression.

1933: The retrenched employees were allowed to remain in the Premier Diamond mine houses, rent free, and were provided with water, lights, sanitary and medical services free of charge.

1939: World War 2 – by this time the Cullinan Village virtually became a ghost town.

1941-1945 Cullinan housed the biggest concentration of Italian Prisoners of War, over 90,000 captured in North Africa. The entire Cullinan Village and all vacant houses were taken over for the South African War effort, including the golf course used for tents for the service men. The Cullinan Railway Station used for both the troops and the Italian prisoners of war. The Recreation Club was handed over to the YMCA for the duration of the war. Used as an entertainment centre for the troops, any show being performed in Johannesburg was also performed in Cullinan.

1942: Italian Prisoners of War artists painted eight murals, depicting items of South African and British historical interest in the Recreation Club Hall.

Post 2nd World War:

1945: The 12 years of accumulated water was pumped out of the big hole and the Premier Diamond mine resumed production and shafts were sunk were sunk for the first time.

1948: Recreational Hall converted into a cinema – covering the murals with boards to improve the acoustics.

1993: Hidden murals uncovered, thanks to the Cullinan Heritage Society.

1994 -1998: Murals restored with sponsorship from De Beers, Premier Diamond mine, and the Italian community.

2002: Premier Diamond Mine and Cullinan centenary celebrations begin with the opening of a ‘diamond hub’ by former President Nelson Mandela.

2003: Cullinan celebrated its centenary

2008: Petra Diamonds Limited acquired the Cullinan Diamond Mine.

2009: 507 carat Diamond found at the Cullinan Diamond Mine (now named Petra Diamond Mine). Named the Cullinan Heritage diamond, soon recognized as one of the largest found in the World.

2010: In the history of the Cullinan Diamond Mine, it has produced over 25% of the world’s largest and most famous diamonds over 400 carats.

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Cullinan Historical Premier Hotel 1906 as covered on Ekala’s mine tours

Ekala Family & Guides

Ekala Family & Guides

We pride ourselves on our extensive knowledge of South Africa’s history, culture and wildlife.

With our vast experience and expertise, we will, above all, ensure you leave full of memories.

Ekala will additionally endeavor to personalise your tour according to individual time as well as requirements.

Furthermore Ekala personally conducts and organise all our tours and safaris as highly experience and professional guides.

Consequently you get an enhanced understanding of South Africa’s wildlife, history and diverse cultures.

Early photos showing some of the surface operations – discussed as part of Ekala’s Cullinan mine tours


No prices on our website due to the unique, individual and specialised requirements for each tour we supply.

Ekala structure our tours/safari's around our client’s individual requirements.

If time is limited:

We indeed structure the tour from arrival to departure – including airport collection and drop off.

Accordingly using all time available as a fully guided professional tour.

In contrast, not simply a point to point mixed group drive around.

As a result, tour quote based on your specific requirements.

Premier Mine (Cullinan diamond mine) digging on face within big hole – Ekala mine tours

Enjoying and respecting South Africa’s national assets – wildlife, environment and the people.

An Historical/Cultural tour and Safari to remember for the right reason

Premier Mine (Cullinan mine) Early diamond sorting table - Ekala mine tours
Premier Diamond Mine (Cullinan mine) Early underground shaft - Ekala mine tours
Fred Wells with Cullinan Diamond - Premier diamond mine - Ekala gold mine tours