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UPDATED: 16/11/2023

16 November 1883, The SA Perm founded in Kimberley.
16 November 1896, Theodore Samuels, who scored the first ever try for the Springboks, dies.
16 November 1898, Foundation stone of the Market Square Town Hall laid by Moses Cornwall.
16 November 1899, Shells made at the De Beers Workshops for first time.


The South African Permanent Building Society (and later called The Perm) was founded by a group of 40 Kimberley residents who met in Rothschild’s Auction rooms on the Market Square on 16 November 1883. The main instigator for the formation of The Perm was William Roper of the Diamond Fields Advertiser. The first Chairman was George Alfred Champion. Initially, it was named the Kimberley Permanent Mutual Building and Investment Society. Joseph Few was appointed Manager and Secretary at £300 per annum.PT-SA_Perm-1883

Their first offices were in Chisholm’s building (later Safari Steakhouse), secondly, on the corner of Stockdale and New Main and then finally the Permanent Building on Permanent Way. The front of The Perm on the corner of Phakamile Mabija Road (Jones Street) and Dutoitspan Road was originally the site of the Central Hotel.

Women were members from the earliest days but were not seen at shareholder’s meetings. One could apply by subscription for shares in the new Society at a cost of 5 shillings per share.

By the middle 1950s they had 9 branches and 221 agencies throughout the country.

The Perm Headquarters remained in Kimberley until after the Centenary in 1983 when it moved to Johannesburg.

It ceased to exist when it was incorporated into NedCor.

UPDATE: 16/11/2017

16 November 1883, The SA Perm founded in Kimberley.
16 November 1896, Theodore Samuels, who scored the first ever try for the Springboks, dies.
16 November 1898, Foundation stone of the Market Square Town Hall laid by Moses Cornwall.
16 November 1899, Shells made at the De Beers Workshops for the first time.

(Pictured are shells being made at the De Beers Workshops during the siege).


On 16 November 1899, George Labram, the American chief engineer for De Beers, started making shells for the British artillery in the De Beers Workshops (now KEW).

Some weeks before, on 30 September 1899, the British GOC in Cape Town had requested the Cape Colonial authorities to ensure that ammunition holdings in Kimberley for the twelve 2.5-inch guns there, be brought up to 300 rounds per gun immediately, considering this to be ample (for a probable siege of unpredictable duration!). At the outbreak of war, however, there were still only 2600 rounds in the town, of which 765 had been expended by 28 November. Holdings and expenditure for the two 7-pounders are unknown.

As the garrison’s artillery had expended nearly a third of its ammunition by the end of November, Labram turned part of De Beers’ workshops over to making shells, charges, and fuzes for the 2.5-inch guns.


Shells being made at the De Beers Workshops for the Siege.

The percussion nose fuze, designed by Labram, for the 2.5-inch shells was of simple design. Although not a graze fuze in the true sense, it did not require the shell to hit the ground at a steep angle of descent in order to function since there was no striker which had to be driven in.

The gun-metal fuze body was tapered and threaded externally and had a channel bored centrally through it for almost the whole of its length, the undrilled portion being pierced by a fire hole. The upper end of the channel was threaded internally to take a brass detonator plug, the detonator itself being a shotgun-cartridge cap. Fitting inside the channel and held against the fire hole by two lead safety pins, each having a shearing stress of 18.14 kg, was a steel plunger, or pellet, which served as both striker and magazine. The lower cylindrical portion of the plunger was hollowed out from the base and filled with mealed powder, thus forming the magazine, and the open end was sealed with a muslin disc.

The conical upper portion, which acted as the striker, had a flash channel drilled through it from the apex to the magazine, and fitting round the striker, between the shoulders of the plunger and the detonator plug, was a steel detent spring having a 1.36 kg tension. On impact, the plunger’s inertia sheared the two lead safety pins and it flew forward, compressing the detent spring, to strike the detonator. The resultant flash passed down the flash channel setting off the powder in the magazine which, in turn, ignited the shell filling, there being no primer in the shell itself. It was an efficient fuze and there appear to be no recorded reports of ‘blinds’ due to malfunctioning. This is more than can be said of standard British direct action fuzes of the period, and for many years afterwards, as these frequently failed to function when the angle of impact was too acute for the striker to be driven in, or caused it to bend and jam.

(Most of the above from Colonel Dick Peddle’s booklet on the manufacture of the Long Cecil gun.)

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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