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Kaffrarian Steam Mill Co. Ltd
Arcadia, East London, Eastern Cape

FARROW and STOCKS: Architect

Street:5 Dyer Street


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33°00'32.73" S 27°54'31.32" E Alt: 60m

(SAB Dec 1938 64)

In the year 1886 King William’s Town was a thriving frontier town. Trade flourished and entrepreneurs of the town seeing an opening for a flourmill started The Kaffrarian Steam Mill Company Limited. Ten of the town’s most prominent citizens became the first shareholders capitalizing the Company to the value of £7 500. As the local water supply was insufficient in volume and force, this first mill was steam driven. The opening for a flourmill stimulated the growing of wheat in the nearby areas of Molteno and Queenstown. By 1892 the mill had proved so successful that a second mill was established in Molteno at the cost of £15 000.

Another mill was established in 1911 in Durban, which is still operational today. This mill represented the Company’s venture out of wheat milling, being solely designed for maize products.

In 1925 a mill was built in East London in Tutton Street, Quigney. Further investment was made in 1932 when it was decided to purchase Medefindt’s Mill in Dyer Street. Although only used as a depot for many years it is the site of the present mill today. In 1935 £ 35 000 was set aside for the construction of a new flourmill in Dyer Street but it was only in 1940 that the building of this mill was commissioned.

In 1950 it was decided to build a new wheat mill in Queenstown which would combine the capacity of the existing Queenstown and Molteno mills, bringing about the closure of the Molteno mill. Further rationalization closed the decade when the head office sited in King William’s Town, where there was no longer a mill, was moved to East London.

In 1952 the Kaffrarian Steam Mill Company Limited became a subsidiary of Tiger Oats Limited and Tiger entered the wheat milling industry for the first time.

The next twelve years saw extensive investments being made. Mills were upgraded, huge silos built and bulk handling facilities erected and commissioned. In 1976 a new maize mill was built from scratch in Queenstown.

By 1978 the name of The Kaffrarian Steam Mill Company Limited was formally changed to that of K S M Milling Company – a division of Tiger Milling and Feeds Limited.

In 1982 Tiger Oats itself was the subject of an acquisition which resulted in its current membership of the Barlow Rand group of Companies.

In 1991, R2,6 Million was spent in converting the East London Mill into a bulk-flour production site, mainly serving the Bakeries. The bulk out-loading system is fully controlled by a PLC computerized system. This means that the flour is electronically controlled and pneumatically moved. At a press of the button either white or brown flour is released to wherever it is required in whatever quantity needed.

In 1991 Queenstown was identified as the most suitable site to take up the extra maize production capacity required as a result of the closure of Radue Roller Mills, King William’s Town. With the expansion taking place in Queenstown it was decided to move the head office function there, making it the administrative capital for the region.

[Edited extract from the text included in a commemorative panel, titled “OUR ORIGINS” which hangs in the administration offices attached to Tigerbrand’s Arcadia warehouse in East London.]

Entry submitted by William MARTINSON.

View the entries of the other mills:
King William's Town

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.