In the year 1882
a farmer Petrus Johannes Marais (nicknamed Oom Lang Piet) who
owned the farm Varkensfontein in the Heidelberg district made
an agreement with a prospector named Johnstone allowing him to
prospect for gold on the farm Varkensfontein.
Mr. Johnstone' s prospecting operations continued for a
considerable time shrouded in secrecy.
Then one day a stranger
turned up at Oom Lang Piet's home and made an offer to buy the
At the time of the offer Oom Lang Piet was by chance busy
reading "The Fortunes of Nigel" by Sir Walter Scott, a story
about a young man who was the victim of a dishonest intrigue
but eventually achieved his goal in life
The stranger's visit immediately aroused Mr. Marais's
suspicions to the extent that he decided to visit his farm
Once at the farm he found that his suspicions were
With the experiences of Nigel, the character in
the novel in mind, he determined not to allow himself to be
cheated by cunning fortune seekers and at once set about to
establish his own company.
In July 1888, two years after the
discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand, he achieved his goal.
Marais attributed his luck to the novel he had been reading
and, therefore, called his company Nigel. In this way, the
town of Nigel came into being.
In 1888 the State
President Paul Kruger declared Nigel as a public digging under
notice no. 331 and since then the history and development of
Nigel are inseparable from those of the gold mines.
was little more than a mining camp until 1923, when the
control of the town was passed into the hands of a
Dorpvillage. The first meeting of this council was held on 2
The Sub Nigel mine had, in the meanwhile, come into existence
and proved to be the riches gold mine in the world. As a
result of this fact a great influx of people to the town
occurred. Within a space of 7 years the local authority was
given increased status and in 1930 was elevated to a Town
On 24 November 1930 the first meeting of the Town
Council was held and Mr. C.L. Mackle was elected the first
Mayor. This event also marked the starting point of fast
growth of Nigel.
The years 1934 - 1939 saw the most noteworthy development of
the town. This was only slowed down by the outbreak of World
War II. During those five years, no less than 5 suburbs were
proclaimed and speculation in fixed property soared,
The railway line between Springs, Nigel and Heidelberg was
opened on 18 October 1935.
Until then, the nearest railway
station had been Kaydale; situated five miles from Nigel on
the main line between Johannesburg and Durban, and all
transport had been conducted by ox wagon, horses or cars.