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Kempton Park

                          CARL FRIEDRICH WOLFF
Founder of Kempton Park


Carl Friedrich Wolff came to South Africa from Kempten in Bavaria, Germany in 1875.

He eventually landed up in Johannesburg in about 1890 where he opened an office for a London based company.

During this time President Paul Kruger of the Zuid-Afrikaansce Republiek (Z.A.R.) started negotiations with the Nobel Trust about building a dynamite factory at Modderfontein. They were looking for a mediator for these negotiations and Carl Wolff was the natural choice.

Carl proofed to be a very efficient negotiator and the Nobel Trust appointed him as the local director for the newly established Zuid-Afrikaansche Fabrieken voor Ontplofbare Stoffen.

The Nobel Trust exercised complete financial control over the dynamite factory and Wolff’s major role appears to have been as negotiator with the Z.A.R. government and local landowners. During the establishment of the dynamite factory and the delicate negotiations, which evolved as a result of the private rail link from the factory to Zuurfontein station, Wolff played a prominent part.

The exciting events taking place at this time can well be imagined. Gold fever had gripped the Witwatersrand and the dynamite factory was a vital industrial necessity. Land speculation was rife, community development was beginning to take shape and Carl Wolff, at the peak of his career, was right in the heart of the drama.

The portion of the farm, Zuurfontein, on which the railway to Modderfontein had to be built, belonged to Matthys Buitendag. Establishing the rail link was of prime importance and successful negotiation with Buitendag was crucial.

Buitendag’s great complaint was that the existing Pretoria-Vereeniging railway line already divided his property. Some 113 morgen of land on the east side of the railway was completely cut off from the rest of his farm. The new railroad to the dynamite factory would further divide their property and disrupt their farming operations.

The 113 morgen east of the railroad is where Kempton Park eventually had its origin.

Wolff succeeded in negotiating the sale of the farm Zuurfontein to the owners of the dynamite factory. The important fact is that the 113 morgen east of the railroad were not part of the deal.

Details of the discussions and intentions are not recorded but the subsequent history of the 113 morgen portion leads to the conclusion that its exclusion from the option to buy may have been no mere omission on the part of the chief negotiator.

On 8 February 1895 Buitendag sold the 113 morgen on the east side to a George Just.

The following year, on 7 May 1896, Just sold the same property to Carl Friedrich Wolff, and the die was cast for the establishment of Kempton Park.

The Anglo-Boer war broke out in 1899 while Wolff was visiting Europe. The Zuurfontein station became a significant link in the Z.A.R.’s communications and munitions supply line during the struggle.

War ended on May 31, 1902, with the Peace of Vereeniging and Carl Wolff, who by now had severed ties with the dynamite factory, wasted no time. On 13 August 1902, he sold his 113 morgen portion of the farm Zuurfontein to his own newly formed private company called Kempton Park Estates Limited.

The property was subdivided into a township of 216 plots.  Carl Wolff purchased for his own use stand 212, on the southern boundary of the township, near the eastern corner and subsequently erected the first house in Kempton Park on this site.

And so we have the birth of Kempton Park.


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