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Charles Keam

Entrepreneur, Town Councillor & Mayor

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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It is with great sadness that we have to announce that the creator of The Labyrinth of East London Lore, Dr T., has passed away. Helping people through his website gave him no end of pleasure. If you had contact with him and would like to leave a message, please send us an e-mail here.

DEATH NOTICE: see the Cape Archives, MOOC 6/9/1840, No 3625.
OBITUARY: see theDaily Dispatch, 10.11.1920.

Charles Keam was born at St Blazey (Cornwall) in February 1875 and educated at the Training College (Westminster) and Weston College (St Austell).

He moved to London in 1897 and came to South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) as a member of the Royal Engineers, but in a civil capacity.

After the war he settled at East London where he took over the management of Wesche and McLelland's, but started his own building and contracting firm, Keam and Polmear in 1903.

He was responsible for the formation of the East London Master Builders Association, of which he was four times president, and was a founder member of the National Federation of Building Trade Employers of South Africa.

In 1913 became a Justice of the Peace for East London.

Keam entered the Town Council when he was elected unopposed for Ward 4 in the elections of February 1909. He was re-elected unopposed in February 1912 after retiring on rotation.

He served two terms as Deputy Mayor in 1910 and 1911 and was elected Mayor in 1913. He remained on the Council until 1917.

Keam died of heart failure on 7 November 1920, at the age of 44. He was buried at East London.

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