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MIDDELBERG, Gerrit Adriaan Arnold

Born: 1846 06 26
Died: 1916 03 06


Born in Boskoop, South Holland, died in Loenersloot, Utrecht. He married Leopoldina Hallman by whom he had six children.

He was trained as a railways engineer in Zurich (1863-4) and the Hanover Politechnic School (Politegniese Skool te Hannover, 1868). He worked in Prussia and England and on the Dutch railways in Belgium. In 1873 he was appointed as chief engineer to the Hollandse IJzeren Spoorwegmaatskappy (Dutch Iron Railways Company) where he served until 1889. Here-after he was appointed co-director of the NZASM, where he replaced JL CLUYSENAER on 01 January 1890.

In that same year he arrived in Pretoria (April-August, 1890), visiting again twice (May-August, 1891; June–September, 1893). In 1894 he and his family arrived to settle in NZASM House.

He was responsible for the success of the company through his astute administrative abilities, level-headedness, efficiency and canny insight into local politics. During his directorship the Delagoa line was completed by way of the NZASM Eastern Line, the link-up with the Orange Free State Republic to the CAPE GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS through the NZASM Southern Line as well as Natal effected by way of the NZASM South-Eastern Line and a westerly line to Krugersdorp and Potchefstroom by way of NZASM South-Western Line.

He retired in 1898 at a relatively young age, as the NZASM began to prosper, his successor in the brief period before the Anglo-Boer War being JA VAN KRETSCHMAR VAN VEEN.

While Middelberg had served the material world of his age, was more at home with the conservative, religious life of the Boers than the material opulence of his age in Europe. His own inclination, being possessed of sincere religious conviction, was to meditation.

He served as member of the commission of the Volkshospitaal in Pretoria (1898 and 1899) and as one of the curators of the Staatsgymnasium (State Gymnasium) He served as chairman of the Nederlandse Vereeniging (Dutch Association) in Pretoria from 1897 until 1899. He was also curator of the School of Mines established in 1896.

He returned to the Netherlands in 1899, where he served as chairman of the Nederlands Zuid-Afrikaansche Vereeniging from 1899-1911, a position taken over by his youngest son.

He was one of those who accompanied the return of Paul Kruger's mortal remains to South Africa in 1904, where he attended the burial service held at the NG Church on Church Square.

[Translated and transliterated from the researches of Rosa Swanepoel, with her text supplemented by information from De Jong et al, NZASM 100 and DSAB II (which has an expanded socio-cultural biography)].


Middelberg, Gerrit Adriaan Arnold and Spies, FJ du T. 1953. Briewe uit Transvaal van G. A. A. Middelberg. Petoria: Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns

Books citing MIDDELBERG

Anonymous [Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaanse Spoorwegmaatschappij]. [c.1909]. In Memoriam N.Z.A.S.M. Amsterdam: JH De Bussy. pp 13, 83, 84, 113, 143

Bakker, Karel A, Clarke, Nicholas J. 2014. Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens : A shared Dutch built heritage in South Africa. Pretoria: Visual Books. pp 113, 215

De Jong, RC, Van der Waal, GM. 1988. NZASM 100 : 1887-1899, the buildings, steam engines and structures of the Netherlands South African Railway Company. Pretoria: C. Van Rensburg Publications on behalf of the Human Sciences Research Council. pp 43, 44, 45, 57, 62, 63, 109, 135

HSRC. 1972. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume II. Pretoria: Tafelberg for The Human Sciences Research Council. pp 473-474

Ploeger, Jan. 1994. Nederlanders in die Transvaal 1850-1950. Pretoria: Van Schaik. pp 93

Ploeger, Jan & De Kock, Gideon de V. 1989. Nederlandse emigrasie na Suid-Afrika 1800-1900. Port Elizabeth: University of Port Elizabeth. pp 148

Van Winter, PJ. 1937. Onder Krugers Hollanders : Geschiedenis van de Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg-Maatschappij. Eerste Deel. Amsterdam: JH de Bussy. pp 247 v.

Van Winter, PJ. 1938. Onder Krugers Hollanders : Geschiedenis van de Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg-Maatschappij. Tweede Deel. Amsterdam: JH de Bussy. pp 22, 76, 122, 125, 131, 134 v, 138, 145, 147, 148, 178, 180, 183, 193, 197 v, 204, 207 v, 211 v, 216, 221, 233 v, 248, 266, 268, 299, 301 v, 306, 317, 319 v, 359, 361 v, 366 v