Premier Milling

Premier Milling

This collection contains images of the Premier Milling mills in Newtown and Fordsburg. Joffe Marks bought the first mill in 1902 and, by 1909, set a plan to develop further mills to increase capacity in motion. The first modern mill in Newtown was built in 1910 and further expanded. By the 1920s, Joffe Marks owned 3 operating mills and was well on his way to establishing his milling empire. During this period, the mills played an important role in providing mielie meal for the expanding mining houses. Joffe Marks was able to develop the modern mills through the importation of new machinery from the United Kingdom. Joffe Marks exhibited the new maize products at the Pretoria Society for Agriculture and Industry in 1959, where he won a certificate of merit for a new form of maize meal. Details of the mills and the new form technical processes are contained in the book mentioned previously. By 1973, on the 60th anniversary of Premier Milling, the company employed 20, 000 people. It was the largest wheat-milling company in South Africa, with nine mills and 150 other different companies, including bakeries, oil production, biscuit manufacturing, and stock feed. The original mill was closed down in 1994 in Newtown, and parts of it are being converted into offices and housing, in terms of the new urban development process in the city. Return to the Jaffee Family collection…  ...
Jaffee Homes

Jaffee Homes

This small collection of photographs depicts the various residences in which members of the Jaffee family spent their lives. Included are the homes in Yeoville, Becker street, where Laurie Jaffee was born, the house in Houghton, Johannesburg, where Harry and Bessie moved; Joffe Marks’ farm in Sunninghill from 1955-1965, and the Sandhurst house, where Laurie Jaffee lived with his family from 1965 until 1989. The more affluent later homes were staffed by domestic workers (see the letter included below, which provides a reference to the broader social context). A video clip of Laurie and Jean riding horses at Three Jays’ estate is included (circa 1950s), as well as a clip of children playing on a slide with their Scottish nanny – Margaret Henderson – who spent seventeen years employed as a governness to the family.   Return to the Jaffee Family collection…...

Bloom Family

Clara Bloom: Clara, sister to Harry Jaffee, married Samuel Bloom. They had two boys – Norman and Joseph (Joe). Joseph Bloom:  Joseph (“Joe”) also attended Jeppe High school and in 1937 completed his accounting Articles at Hemphill Anderson. He then joined Epic Oil Mills, a subsidiary of Premier Milling. In 1944, after returning from the army. He married Margaret Miller in 1938 and they had two children, Anthony (“Tony”) and Susan. He became a Director of Premier Milling in 1960. In 1963 when the United Trust (Pty) Ltd sold a controlling interest in Premier Milling to Associated British Foods, Joe was made Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company. Joe was a tough negotiator and well-liked and respected by all the employees. He served on the Boards of many other companies and was recognized as one of the Sunday Times Businessmen of the Year in 1974. He made a major contribution to the building of Premier Milling and was recognised as one of the most important South African businessmen. When he died in 1979, his son Tony followed in his footsteps and became Chairman. Anthony Bloom: Tony Bloom was born in 1939 and qualified as an attorney after completing both a B.Com and LLB (cum laude) at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1964 he completed his LLM at Harvard Law School, and in 1970 was awarded a Sloan Fellowship at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. While Associated British Foods controlled Premier Milling, Joe and Tony made an enormous contribution to the growth and diversification of the Company. After Joe’s death, Tony became Chairman. He received several awards...
Family in Russia

Family in Russia

The collection includes images from three trips to Russia (1964, 1980 and 1986). The first trip was undertaken by Laurie Jaffee and Joe Bloom and a lawyer, Charles Friedman, who assisted in tracking down the relatives of Joffe Marks. After Joffe Marks death in 1955, it was discovered that there were relatives (three great- nieces of Joffe Marks – the children of his sister Pera Kapelus) alive in Russia. It was initially thought that they had died in the Holocaust in Lithuania. In terms of Joffe Marks’ wishes, he had left money in trust to his relatives and Laurie Jaffee was obliged to find out whether they were alive. Through advertising in Russian newspapers, the nieces of Joffe Marks were alerted to the advert by a friend. Although most of the family were killed in the Holocaust, the children had miraculously survived. Pera Kapelus (née Jaffee), Joffe Marks’ sister was killed in the Ninth Fort and documented by a very unique letter dated 20 July 1945, written by one of her friends proving her death. The full story, as well as the letter, is contained in the book written by Georgina Jaffee.   In the 1980s, Laurie Jaffee again went to Russia, first with his daughter, Georgina and Tony and Gesila Bloom, and then a third trip with his dear friend Graham Beck. This latter trip, he was also accompanied by Georgina. Visiting the Ninth Fort in Kovno in 1989, where 80 000 people were murdered, was an especially moving experience while remembering Pera Kapelus. There is a video of Georgina’s trip to Russia which shows meetings with the...
Harry Jaffee

Harry Jaffee

Born in 1887 in Lithuania, Harry Jaffee was brought to South Africa in 1903 by his uncle, Joffe Marks. He was accompanied by his father Herman, mother Dora and sister Clara. Both Herman and Dora were Yiddish and Russian speakers and observant, attending shul regularly, finding it very difficult to integrate into emerging Johannesburg. He spent two years at Marist Brothers’ College, and then was employed by his uncle to drive a baker’s cart in 1905. As time passed, Harry became part of the management of the company. Appointed as alternate director of Premier Milling on 19 December 1914, he earned a salary of 25 pounds, which was doubled in March 1915 to 50 pounds. Harry was made a fully-fledged member of the Board a few months later. He married Bessie Pinn, the daughter of Cape Town jeweller Lazarus Pinn, in 1918. Together, they had three children: Gerald, Edna and Laurence. Harry was a founding member of the Wheat Control Board established in 1935, and was both Chairman and Managing Director of Premier Milling by 1953. He acted as the treasurer of the Chevra Kadisha for a number of years, and died 1961. The collection carries photos of early life in Yeoville and then in Houghton, Johannesburg.     Return to the Jaffee Family collection…...
Jean and Laurie Jaffee

Jean and Laurie Jaffee

Laurence Jaffee, known as Laurie, was the second son of Harry and Bessie Jaffee. Born in 1922 in Yeoville, Johannesburg. After matriculating from King Edward school in Johannesburg, he joined the army. Thereafter he went into the family business, Premier Milling, while at the same time completing a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. He was transferred to Vereeniging Consolidated Mills, a milling company in Vereeniging on the Vaal River. In 1957, Laurie was brought onto the Board of Premier Milling and from 1961- 1966 he was not only Chairman of Vereeniging Mills but also Chairman of the Association of Balanced Feed Manufacturers and a member of the Wheat Industries Control Board. Laurie married Jean Marks in 1955 in London and they had four children- Georgina, Mark, Richard and Lloyd. Laurie recalls that milling was a tough business. Among many other interests he and Jean were well-known for playing a considerable role in building the horse-breeding and racing industry in South Africa   Jean was born in London in 1932. During the war, she was sent to boarding school in the countryside. After school, she worked at the Windmill Theatre in London doing public relations. She met Laurie in 1955 through the South African Club in London, and they were married at the West London Synagogue in 1955. There is a video of their marriage in the collection. During the early years of their marriage they lived on a farm in Rivonia named “Three Jays Estate” where Laurie farmed pigs, having imported specialist bloodlines. Jean was a very good horse rider, and loved life on...