Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Photographs from N'gata 1926: 3 Domestic Buildings

Some photographs of domestic buildings around N'gata.

It is a shame the first photograh is so faded, there is a figure standing in front of the house, but it is unclear if it is Lord Egerton or not.

"Lord Egerton's House, N'gata Njoro "

"Mr Broatch my nearest neighbour at Njoro and his little boy."
I have just found a reference to a David BROATCH (b.1 Aug 1924-Njoro,Kenya) son of Thomas John BROATCH (b.29 Dec 1896-Dryfesdale and Sarah McIntosh SHARP (b.12 Aug 1896-Linwood,Renfrew . It must be this little boy.

Same house as above from different angle, I think. The steeply pitched roof will have kept the house fairly cool.

"A Desirable Family Residence near the Station. Roof of Flattened Petrol tins"

Village Hut .. there is a chicken in the foreground and a seated figure to the right

Hut construction, wattle posts which are then covered with a mud facing.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Photographs from N'gata 1926: 2 Allan Thackeray's House, Borland's Ford, Ngata, Njoro

Views of Allan's house.
It is not entirely clear if these are all of the same house. As yet I have been unable to find any record of the Borland's Ford location. On the enlargements you can see the wattle and daub construction. The interior details are also interesting.. particularly the teapot and the discarded shoes. There are 3 wine glasses and what looks like a tomato ketchup bottle.

"My Hut N'gata"

No details of this photo.

"Interior. My Hut with kitchen help Muriasi, Njoro"

No details of this photo.

"My Kitchen, Kitchen help-- Muriasai, Cook-- Juma and General help around kitchen, name unknown"

" My Hut, Borlands Ford "
This is a small part of a badly faded photo, but nice old car.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Photographs from Ngata 1926: 1. General Farm Activities

These next few posts will be photographs, some from negatives and some from prints. They show people, places and work on Lord Egerton's Estate, N'gata, Njoro. The captions in italic are from the wording written by Allan on the back of the photographs.

"Excavating a rain tank near Workshop, N'Gata "

"Working on the Foundations of the N'gata Workshop"

"Felling Wattle at N'gata"

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Letter Four: Ngata 29/11/1926

We go forward many months now, to November. There do not seem to be any letters surviving from the intervening five months. Christmas is coming and he sounds a little wistful for the Christmas displays in the shops, carols and the pantomime in Leeds . Interestingly he refers to coal rationing, and bemoans the lack of shops in Njoro and the ubiquitous Patrick is there of course. He mentions going to visit the Woodmores at Keringet now rather than at Molo. I don't think he ever got there.

With this letter I am showing a picture of his "house" and a store. He liked living in this little round house preferring it to the brick built one he would move into later at Kisinget. The houses were built of anything available, wood corrugated iron, grass reeds mud and petrol cans.
In the book "Red Strangers" by C S Nicholls there is a description of a farmer's hut.

" My house is made of mud with holes of various sizes and shapes to represent doors and windows. The floor is nothing more than Mother Earth... everything is continually covered with sand, mud or white ants and consequently any degree of comfort is impossible.... It is remarkable how much the office owes to petrol boxes and tins... The insects at night are most trying and appear in large numbers, in the form of moths and beetles of all descriptions, that it is almost impossible to read or write, and quite futile to consider any supper but bread and cheese. Scorpions, tarantulas and snakes are also numerous.. "

"My Hut, Njoro"

" The inside of my hut. Njoro "


House constructed with tubs.

Letter 4
Lord Egerton of Tatton’s Estates
N’gata Farm
29/11/ 26

My Darling Joyce

Just a line from Daddy to wish you a merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year. I am sorry I have not been able to come Home for the Goose and Plum Pudding but never mind, you and Patrick must eat my share between you.
We will have another special Pudding made when I do arrive. Mummy tells me you are all allowed a small ration of coal every week in Leeds nowadays so it is lucky for you and Mums that ours is only a little House, if they were great big rooms like Temple-Newsham has in it, whatever would you do.
I hear that already you have had Snowstorms, and Dad can hardly remember what Snow looks like it is so long since he saw any. It is hotter and brighter here, with Sunshine at Christmas, than it is in Leeds in July but Dad would much rather live with you and Mums in Leeds than all by himself at Njoro.
I cannot send you a Christmas Present, love, nor a card because we have no rows of nice shops here like you have, to choose them in. There is only one store at Njoro and they keep chiefly foodstuffs. A leg of Mutton or a box of Quaker Oats would be a strange Christmas Gift wouldn’t it.?
I expect you and Mums will have had a grand tour round all the Fairylands and Santa Claus’ shops full of beautiful Toys, and then there will be the Pantomime to see and Carols to sing at Church so even if the weather is cold and dull in old England it is much the best country to spend Christmas in. Daddy is going to visit Mr Woodmore at Keringet for a few days and hear the little children sing “Good King Wenceslaus” and “The First Noel”. They sing in English and do so quite well.

Much Love and Many Kisses from Daddy

I will write a longer letter next time

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Letter Three: N'gata Farm 4/6/26. Stars and Stripy Rats

A short letter this time. He is just one of many who will have written home telling of the beauty of Africa, a place, it seems, it was hard to leave even amongst settlers who fell on hard times.
Njoro is situated on the edge of the Great Rift Valley. It lies 18 km west of Nakuru the district town. Lake Nakuru is now a National Park, famous for its great flocks of flamingos who turn the skies and shores pink as they feed on the lake. The travel guides today promise sitings of black and white rhino, herds of waterbuffalo, zebra, buffalo, giraffe and lions with one of the best chances of seeing a leopard in Kenya.
In this letter Allan just describes the stripy "rats" who don't seem to be on list of favourable animals to see! They were probably not rats but a species of the pretty and lively African striped mouse.

Letter Three

Nagata Farm
Kenya Colony

My dear little daughter Joyce,

Just a line to say that Daddy is well and happy and spends many many an hour in thinking of his dear little Joyce and Mother and hopes they are both well; and poor old Patrick too even if he has got big feet, he didn’t make them himself, and they are grand firm things to stand on.
Daddy will be coming home soon now but he does not know yet just when that will be but he longs to see Mummy and Joyce again and we must think of some specially fine treat for all the three of us to have when we see each other once more.
I hope that Mummy and you are now away on a little holiday somewhere, you must get a change of air and surroundings; it does everyone good to see new places and new faces every now and then; Daddy has seen a great many, sometimes more than he wanted to. Auntie Nell has written Dad such a nice letter all the way from Montrose in Scotland and now a letter is on its way back in reply.
When we are ploughing the fields we often see Rats running away in terror, but these are Brown Rats and striped on their backs with Black stripes like a Tiger, they are rather pretty. You would like to see the beautiful moonlight at full moon all over the great Plain, one of the most beautiful things in Africa is the bright moonlight and the stars twinkle twinkle, in the clear air.

With heaps of love to you and to Mother and take care of each other wherever you are


Here is a photograph printed from the negatives of some work in the fields pre the employment of heavy machinery. Here are the oxen and the maize crop he referred to in first letter .

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lord Egerton of Tatton.

Lord Maurice Egerton of Tatton was the fourth Baron Egerton of Tatton in Cheshire. He was born in 1874 and died childless on 30 January 1958 marking the end of the Egerton line. The Egerton family had been at Tatton Park since the 16th Century and it seems sad that great heritage should literally die out. Here below is the beautiful Tatton Park House which was gifted to the National Trust on his death.

I have been slowly trying to make a picture of this man in my mind, he was said to have been "an innovator and a man of great inventive and technical skill, a pioneer aviator, photographer and filmmaker, he was an early motorist and prodigious traveller," but for all that he presents a lonely figure, dying far away from Cheshire at his castle estate in Kenya. Bitterly spurned by an un named woman who he pursued twice, even building the strange and wonderful Egerton Castle for her because she had rejected his first prospective marital home.

I can do no better than quote from this article by journalist Benson Riungu, written in June 2004 for the East African Standard, Nairobi.

"Determining to impress her, Lord Egerton set about building a ‘house’ on a scale that would surely impress her and make her change her mind. He conceived of a castle that would have no comparison in England or any other country for that matter.
Dressed stones and zinc tiles for the roof were shipped from Europe, the builders from Europe and Asia. The result, in 1938, was a stupendous four-storey edifice fitted with some of the most up-to-date mechanical and electrical gadgets at the time, including an escalator.
Upon completion, the peer threw what was billed as the biggest party ever seen in pre-colonial Kenya, with guests coming from as far as Northern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and Nyasaland, now Malawi.
The cheers and congratulations, it was to turn out, had come too soon. When the woman for whom the castle had been built came back to Kenya and viewed it, she dismissed it as "a museum" and a monument to vanity.
Being spurned appears to have changed Lord Egerton in a fundamental way. Thereafter he seemed to live in a fantasy world.
He furnished and ran the castle as if the family he had envisaged actually existed. Nobody but the house servants was ever allowed in.
But an even more far-reaching chance was in his attitude towards women. He developed such a passionate hatred for them that he banned them from his castle and put up notices warning female trespassers that they risked being shot on sight.
Visitors, including friends, were to leave their wives and daughters eight miles away from the castle. And when he planned to visit the quarters where his African staff lived, he would issue a two-week notice so that all women could be vacated."

The article explores some of the goings on of the Happy Valley set and is a very interesting read go here to read the article " The Houses That Love Built"

However he is remembered for founding the excellent Egerton University at Njoro, there is a page on their site detailing his contribution here and his gift of Tatton Park to the National Trust. The above image of Lord Egerton is from their website here

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Letter Two: N'gata Farm Njoro 16/5/26

The reason for the delay in getting this post on the net is that I have been trying to research, read and understand more about the Africa my Grandfather was experiencing. I had not realised that the time he was there coincided with the infamous era of the "Happy Valley" crowd.

My next post will be some back ground information about both the dissolute Happy Valley settlers and Lord Egerton himself who was one of the few to make a success of farming in Africa. In 1939, Lord Egerton donated 400 hectares of land for a school to provide training for Europeans and Africans in agriculture and an additional 1, 215 hectares along with his strange Castle home on his death in 1958. There is now at Njoro the important and succesful Egerton University which grew from educational foundations that Lord Egerton laid and he is kindly thought of. It is said of him that he “did more for Kenya than any other white person”.
I find myself glad that my grandfather was working for him rather than one of the less palatable friends of Lord Delamere.

Letter Two
We skip forward to after Easter in 1926 and I have included page one of this actual letter as it was written on lovley old Fowler letterheaded paper complete with an impressive 23 branches listed, including Alexandria, Honolulu and Havana.
Allan is now at Lord Egerton's Estate up in Njoro.
Naughty Patrick, the dog, is again referred to and the nature notes are touching.

N´Gata Farm
Kenya Colony

My Dearest Daughter Joyce,

Thank you so much for your long and clever letter you sent with Mummys. I am glad you had such a happy Easter and got lots of eggs.
We must go to Middleton Pond when I come home and see if we cannot catch some of those tiddlers for tea and if we don’t I shall have to buy a big crab on the way home to make up for our loss.
Patrick was naughty to fight Paddy James but perhaps he had to do it in self defence; sometimes the most gentle and peaceful of us have to fight because we are attacked by cruel enemies. Anyhow if Patrick has a fresh hole bitten in his ear he will be able to hear a lot better now and he will look more handsome with the lump on his head bitten off.

I hope you and Mummy will go away for some holiday soon because it will not be long before I am coming sailing back to you and leaving the little black children for other lands where people have olive coloured skins, the Italians and the Spaniards and then at last come to old England where folks skins are white;(at least they are when they wash them properly).

We saw such a large herd of Gazelle, a kind of Deer close to us this week and we often see Ostriches and sometimes Snakes but only little ones. One day I found two tiny little Hares that had been abandoned by their mother; such dear fluffy little things. I brought then home in my pocket and fed them with milk from a spoon and they drank it greedily, they lived for three days and then I am sorry to say they died, they were too young to be left without their Mother.
I hope you are getting on nicely at school, some day perhaps when you are a big girl you may go on a long voyage on the sea. I hope so for it is grand and I am sure you will like it.

Much Love and Many Kisses from Father

On the back of this photo is written;
"My Dog- Mutt and Kipsoi my Cook outside my Hut. "

This I am sure is Kipsoi's mother as we have another photograph of this lady labelled " My cooks mother"