HISTORY

shed

The earliest surviving document of the family
business: a receipt for the first instalment on
the property in Rietfontein (now Riviera),
bought by Frank Fewster Chamberlain.

Uncle Frank opened his shop in Riviera,
a village north east of Pretoria.
He supplied produce and second-hand
building materials to dairy farmers in
the Moot valley.

 


After the Anglo Boer War (1899 – 1902)
the soldiers’ barracks were demolished
and sold piece-meal from Roberts’ Heights
(Voortrekkerhoogte, now Thaba Tshwane).

Frank Fewster Chamberlain would trek up
to Roberts’ Heights to bid on the materials
– nails, timber, doors and glass –
and return to Riviera to sell them.

The title deed of the Rietfontein property
(pictured right), signed by the surveyor

general of the Transvaal in 1905
- General JC Smuts.


Very old residents of Riviera remembered
tennis parties before the First World War
at Uncle Frank’s house over the road
from his shop on Chamberlain Street.


In 1926 Frank Fewster’s nephew, Frank
Herbert Chamberlain, arrived from the
family farm in England to join his uncle.
His duties included cycling through the
donkey camp where Pretoria Academic
hospital is today, to Barclays Bank and
the Post Office on Church Square.


8 FEB 1864 - 3 APR 1935
In April of this year, Frank Fewster
Chamberlain died, having built up an
estate of £4778 and 20 properties.  

 

Signature


Frank Herbert Chamberlain inherited the
business after his uncle died, and slowly
built up the company during
the Great Depression. 

The 1940’s and the 2nd World War
brought tremendous shortages of all
goods, especially building materials.
In spite of this, F.H. Chamberlain
recorded a £558-1-0 profit for the
financial year end in June 1944.


Frank Herbert Chamberlain with Elizabeth,
Philip and David in the Riviera timber yard.

The trees in the background are
still standing today.


The South African building industry took off
in the 1950’s. Offices and a new shop
were built on the Riviera site in 1956.
Frank Herbert Chamberlain created a solid
business based on his credo of: integrity,
hard work and progress with caution.

In the background, the original 1903
trading shed.


Frank Herbert’s sons, Philip Newton and
Frank David (Dawie) Chamberlain joined
the firm after completing their studies.
Philip was in charge of finance and
administration and Dawie
of operations. 

The partnership is based on having fun
and making a profit (in that order).


The company achieved a substantial
increase in turnover, and posted
annual sales of R1 000 000. 

Pictured on the right, the Riviera sales
counter during the 1970's - salesman in
formal wear, dressed in jackets and ties.


Eager to grow the business, the brothers
bought sites in the industrial
suburb of Waltloo.

The property now encompasses the truss
factory, joinery, vehicle workshop,
hardware store and the bulk timber shed.

Pictured right, Chamberlains had to build
their own rail siding at Waltloo because
transporting timber from the sawmills by
road was illegal at that time.


Chamberlains opened its roof truss
manufacturing plant on the
Waltloo property.

 

The first roof trusses supplied by
Chamberlains (pictured on the right)
still standing today.


On the 50th anniversary of Frank Herbert’s
arrival in South Africa, FH Chamberlain
Waterkloof Glen opened in the veld to
the east of Pretoria.

The surrounding suburbs were
developed during the building
boom of the early 1980’s.


Pictured on the right - the Chamberlain
brothers singing at the 50th anniversary
of Frank Herbert Chamberlain's
arrival in South Africa.

The anniversary party was a grand event
held at the Pretoria Club.


The Randburg store opened on
1 September 1984. 

Two weeks later the prime rate 
soared to 25% and the South African
building industry entered its worst
slump in history.


Chamberlains weathered the wild
economic swings and political unrest
of the 1980’s, and welcomed
the democratic South Africa
– ready to grow.


Chamberlains celebrated it's Centenary
with a turn-of-the-century staff party and
another famous Chamberlains
customer braai.

Pictured right, Philip and David
Chamberlain celebrate with
Emily Mametje.


Chamberlains opened its first big box
megastore in Centurion, offering an
exciting retail shopping experience.


Building on the success of its sister store in
Centurion, Montana Megastore opened
in 2007, at the start of the world
financial crisis.

Over 26 000 product
lines on offer, with the same great
service and prices that have
made Chamberlains famous
for hardware since 1903.


The company donates significant money
to organisations involved in education
and conservation through the
Chamberlains Charitable Foundation.

David Chamberlain was awarded the
Austin Roberts Memorial Medal
for his contribution to bird
conservation in 2015.


After 107 years, the 4th generation joins
the team, ensuring that the Chamberlain
founding family values of hard work,
integrity, progress with caution and
having FUN continue as a vital part
of our company’s success.


The company expanded eastwards to provide
customers with a network of accessible
outlets to service all their
building material, hardware and
home improvement needs.


Chamberlains moved northwards
into Johannesburg with a green
building as part of their
commitment to caring
for the environment.

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