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The ‘father’ of Kempton Park

Carl Friedrich Wolff is officially known as the man who established Kempton Park.

He came to South Africa from Kempten in Bavaria, Germany, in 1875, where he opened an office for a London-based company.

During this time president Paul Kruger of the Zuid-Afrikaansce Republiek (ZAR) started negotiations with the Nobel Trust on building a dynamite factory at Modderfontein.

They were looking for a mediator for these negotiations and chose Wolff. He proved to be an 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.

Wolff’s major role was as negotiator between the ZAR 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 role. Because gold fever had gripped the Witwatersrand during those times, the dynamite factory was a vital industrial necessity.

Land speculation was rife, community development was beginning to take shape and Wolff was at the heart of the drama.

The portion of the farm Zuurfontein, on which the railway line to Modderfontein had to be built, belonged to Matthys Buitendag.

Establishing the rail link was of prime importance and successful negotiations with Buitendag were crucial.

Buitendag’s complaint was that the existing Pretoria-Vereeniging railway line already divided his property and that the new railroad to the dynamite factory would further divide his property and disrupt their farming operations.

On February 8, 1895, Buitendag sold a part of his farm, 113 morgen on the eastern side of his existing farm, to George Just. The following year, on May 7, 1896, Just sold the same property to Wolff.

After the war ended in 1902, the owner of the farm Zuurfontein and family member of the original owner, Stephanus Johannes Marais, who was a farmer in Bethal, sold the portion where Kempton Park currently is situated, to Wolff.

Marais did not have children, but the family of his brother remained residents in the area.

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