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Alfred Webb

Entrepreneur, Town Councillor & Mayor

Keith Tankard
Updated: 14 October 2009
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DEATH NOTICE: see the Cape Archives, MOOC 6/9/1058, No 527.
OBITUARY: see the Daily Dispatch, 4.2.1918.

Alfred Webb was born in Worcester (England) in December 1838.

He became a shipping agent and partner to George Attwell in the firm Attwell, Webb & Company. They were agents for Aegis Fire and Marine Assurance Company as well as the Mutual Life Assurance Company.

In June 1877 he started another firm -- Webb, Baine & Company -- which took over the book and stationery business of Lance, Goodwin & Company. At the same time he started Alfred Webb & Company, general merchants. In 1883 he became a Justice of the Peace for East London.

In August 1873 Webb was elected to the very first Municipal Board to represent Panmure but resigned the seat in April 1876 to take up the position of Municipal Secretary. He gave up that post three months later and in February 1877 was re-elected as a commissioner to represent the West Bank.

His presence in the Council was thereafter fairly erratic in which he served Wards 1 and 2 until he eventually resigned permanently in February 1885.

He served as Chairman of the Board from September 1877 -- when Amelius Vincent's seat as well as the chair became vacant -- until January 1878 when he himself stood down to make room for John Gately to take over the leadership. He served one term as Mayor in 1883.

Webb's firm went insolvent in 1885, during the time that contemporaries called the "Great Depression". He then left East London for Somerset East, where he established the Somerset East Budget.

He returned in March 1894, however, and founded the East London Standard and then returned to the Council in June 1899 to represent Ward 4. He became Deputy Mayor in 1900 but resigned from the Council in June that year because of work commitments.

Webb died on 3 February 1918 at the age of 79, and was buried at East London.

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