Transcribed here are two collections of letters.
The first and largest collection contains letters from AJ & AE Parkes to their daughters, Rosemary and Bunch while they were travelling round Africa in 1933/4. Most of the letters are from Ethel, with a few from AJ. (filed in P35).
This journey was principally a sales trip by AJP seeing potential customers. It gives a good indication of how a journey like that was made before the age of air travel. The contacts made by AJP during this trip must have laid the foundation of what became a successful part of JP&S during the 1950's through the 1970's. He built on this trip with his second visit to South Africa in 1948. Some of the people mentioned in these and the 1948 letters remained family friends for many years.
Included here are the transcripts of postcards and letters from Ethel to her mother and sister in 1933/4. (filed in P28)
The second set are letters from AJP to Ethel when he returned to South Africa on a sales trip in 1948. (filed in P35)
1933 Nov 23rd:
London Victoria Dep 1400
Dover Arr 1538
Dover Dep 1555
Calais Arr 1710
Calais Dep 1745
Marseilles Arr 1225
And embark on SS Cathay Dep midnight
Nov 25-28: at sea
Port Said Arr
Dep 1230 or 1830
Cairo Arr 1620 or 2230
Nov 29th to Dec 14th Egypt and Palestine
Air Mail Letters from Wolverhampton Nov 28th Dec 5th. 31 days
Dec 15th to 24th at sea Llandovery Castle
Dec 25th 1933 to Jan 7th 1934 Kenya
Air Mail Letters from Wolverhampton Dec 19th Dec 26th. 61 days
Jan 7th to 14th at Sea SS Kenya (British India Steamer)
Calling at Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Beira
Jan 15th to 18th Lourenco Marques
Air Mail Letters from Wolverhampton Jan 2th. 13 days
Jan 18th to Feb 28th:
Johannesburg, Pretoria, Boksburg, Benoni, Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Pietermaritzburg,
Air Mail Letters from Wolverhampton Jan 9th to Feb 13th 91 days
Durban by boat to East London, Kigwilliamstown, Queenstown.
East London to Port Elizabeth by boat to Uitenhage & Grahamstown by road.
Feb 28th Port Elizabeth to Cape Town by road.
Mch 1st to 9th Cape Town
Air Mail Letters from Wolverhampton Feb 20th to 27th 101 days
Mch 9th Cape Town depart SS Winchester
Mch 26th Arrive Southampton.
Later note from Johannesburg:
Sail Arundel Castle March 23rd Arrive S'hampton 6 a.m. Ap 9
These letters were kept by her daughter, Rosemary, and show her as a caring mother. They are mostly written to the children's age of 12 and 14. They give an indication of the places they visited and Ethel's reactions to them. She evidently missed her children and was not altogether happy being away from home for so long. She seemed, particularly in South Africa to have spent quite a bit of time alone while AJP was off on business.
P.& O.S.N. COMPANY'S
Tuesday 28 10.30 (November 33)
My own Precious darlings
Here we are nearly at Port Said. We arrive there at 6 tomorrow morning. It is a beautiful hot morning everybody wearing thin clothes. People are busy playing games on deck. Deck tennis, quoits etc. They have a nice big swimming bath on the upper deck too. I haven't bathed. You two girls would love it I am sure. The crossing on the whole has been quite good though for two days it was rather rough. There was a very high wind blowing. Anyway I haven't missed a meal so far. Of course there is tons to eat all the time everything you can think of. Far too much. Still there is nothig much else to do!!
We had a very good view of Stromboli the volcano yesterday. We saw the smoke belching out. We should have seen the flames had it been night time.
We passed through the straits of Messina at night. It was frightfully pretty. Romie you will have heard of Scylla (the rocks) and Charybdis (the whirlpool) the tale of them comes in mythology - they guard the entrance to the straits you know. They have to steer the ship very accurately to get thro'.
We had a great send off from Victoria. Uncle C. and Auntie B. came with us and Uncle Tom. Maude and Gill Newman were on the station. They gave me a lovely lot of violets.
I felt very sad of course just when we were leaving everybody behind. Still I am sure we shall have a wonderful time, especially if you two darlings are happy and well. I know you will be. I am posting this to you directly we land tomorrow. It really seems ages since we left London but I suppose after a bit time will fly.
I shall write to you once a week by air mail and then send odd cards etc by the ordinary mail.
Auntie Hilda is getting a brooch for Joy for Xmas. Don't forget to ask her about it.
I think I must just write a note to Grannie and Nannie now. Bye Bye my precious ones.
Remember me to Miss Barrows will you.
Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo
Tuesday Dec 5
My own two Darlings,
Your letters which arrived yesterday morning were a perfect joy. I was just longing for the mail to come in - it was late owing to stormy weather - they were so nice and long and interesting. I know I shall never be able to tell you all I want to. There seems such lots to say. You Bunch asked about our cabin on the Cathay. It was on the second deck - the middle, in a good position. It was called a Bibby cabin because the porthole was in a sort of passage running out of the cabin. It was an advantage because it gave us moor room. The wash bowl was there hanging room and loads of room to stand up our big trunks.
Drawing of cabin!
I don't suppose you will be able to understand my drawing but still you do know what they are like. The beds were most comfortable. The people on board were quite jolly - lots of them have come on to stay at Shepheard's. It is really a most beautiful hotel, the biggest we have ever stayed in. It is quite Eastern inside. I believe it is famous all over the world. Of course the food is perfectly marvellous except perhaps meat which is not good. You can have just anything you like at any meal. Always things like lobster and huge prawns most wonderfully served. Do you know we had lovely fresh strawberries the other night with a most wonderful ice. You two would be able to eat to your heart's content!!! We have got a beautiful big bedroom with a bathroom. When we wake in the morning the sun is pouring in. Of course we have our b.fast in our room. We sit in the window - I'm in my dressing gown. They carry a table containing a lovely basket of fruit crisp rolls, toast, marmalade and coffee. Oh, Daddy always has an egg! All the servants (men) are black you know they just come in and out of our room as the maids do at home. I shall have to tell you about the life of the people when I come home. I'm afraid it would take far too long in a letter. The natives are really quite uncivilised. Children almost from their cradles have to work. You see they are not compelled to go to school. The filth in which they live is appalling. Many of them have terribly bad sight owing to neglect.
The native shopping quarter is called the bazaar, a most interesting place. I'm afraid I haven't been able to buy anything very much for you children but I will enclose some tiny things in a letter next mail - it is awkward sending them by post. They sell things like beads - amber ivory jade - all sorts of boxes cheap jewellery carpets - these are beautiful - we've bought quite a lot of odd stuff which is being sent home.
The Warners of Codsall introduced us to some people here called Boyes. They have been most kind in taking us about. But for them I should have been a bit lonely as Daddy has been working hard all the time.
Today I have been out into the real desert. It was really rather weird these hundreds and hundreds of miles - nothing but sand.
Another day we went into one of the mosques and saw dozens of groups of men all squatted on the floor - they were being taught to read the Koran (their bible) - you see the majority of the people can neither read nor write.
Well I must be stopping. It was very nice of the B's to take you to Droitwich. I will send Brenda a card. I do hope you thanked them.
Do let me know everything you are doing darlings. We leave here on Friday and spend he night at Port Said Go on to Palestine on Saturday and pick up the Llandovery Castle at Suez on Wed 11th. We are on the sea until Dec 23rd Mombassa. Bye Bye. I carry your photographs about with me. Tons of love and hugs and kisses.
(must be 11th Dec)
Dear all of you,
When we got in tonight at 7.30 from Jaffa (D. has done a hard day's work whilst I have sat by the sea!) there was a gorgeous mail sent on by Cook's.
Your letters, all of you are lovely. I feel I must just
dash off something to you as we hear there is an airmail at 7.30 in the
I've already written letters to you all for the mail which leaves here on Wed midday. You should get them about Dec 21st.
I've written to you R&B whilst sitting on the beach this afternoon watching people bath - can you believe it.
It is a most hair raising ride we have been. The son of the man who is to be the agent took us. My heart leapt to my mouth once or twice.
We can't send all our letters "par avion" or we shall be ruined - it was 7d each letter from Egypt - ordinary post for a card is 2 1/2d a very "spensive" place.
The lad rather enjoyed showing off what he could do on these hair pin bends.
He also told us how hew was held up by robbers 6 months ago. They did nothing but take all his money. You see they put a row of stones across the road so that a car has to stop. We saw several lots of policemen --- about patrolling. It's a terribly lonely country - mountainous. I've told you about it in another letter. They will arrive when you (R&B) get to Pine Lodge. What a time you will be having. I'm quite envious still I am escaping the cold! Mre Barrows wrote. Nannie, Aunt Gladys, Auntie Hilda and then all of you people. I'd no idea before what it meant to get letters when one is away. I think I'll just dash a note to Gladys (I've written her Xmas letter too, this weekend) as its her birthday next week. If I write more I shall only be repeating what I've already said. Bye Bye. Lots of love to you all.
Hotel Fast, Jerusalem
Monday night, 11th Dec 1933
My own Darlings
This is your Xmas letter and where do you think I am writing it - sitting on the sea shore at Jaffa or rather Telaviv the new part! People are bathing and other people are lying on the sands in their bating suits!
Daddy is doing business so I am just sitting on a deck chair for the afternoon.
It’s a bit queer and strange for there isn't and English person in sight. A man with whom Daddy is doing business brought here over a wonderful mountain road. I shouldn't like to have been driving. It is all so terribly precipitous.
Palestine is most interesting. As you know it is the country of Jesus Christ. On Sat Aft we took a car and went to see the Mount of Olives, Jericho, the River Jordan and the Dead Sea. We drove through the Wilderness that you read about in the Bible and we saw the mountain where Christ was tempted and where he fasted 40 days. It was a terribly lonely and barren road there and at night it is patrolled all the way by English and native police to keep back the brigands who occasionally try to break through and hold up passengers on the road. It really sounds or rather is rather thrilling.
The natives wear head dress like the riffs in the "Desert Song". I thought of that when we were going thro' the mountains. They look exactly as they did on the stage. You know the Dead Sea is very salt, much more so than the Brine Baths - amazing isn't it? tucked right away there at the foot of some mountains and yet it is 1300 ft below sea level.
Some friends of the Warners invited us to dinner with them on Sat. night which was very nice. Seemed more homely! Then on Sunday some more people invited us to lunch. They had a big party of 17 people - most terribly well done! People have been very kind to us since we have been away.
In the afternoon we went to see the very old part of the city. We saw the way along which Christ carried the Cross - the various places where He was allowed to rest for a few minutes - these are called "The Stations of the Cross" and the way is called the Dolorosa. We also went to the place where He was tried - the court of Pontius Pilate. We saw the original floor that has never been disturbed and several of the columns which were part of the building.
It is in a tiny narrow little alley sort of place. A convent for orphans now stands on the site.
I do hope you will be able to read all this and won't get tired of wading through it.
I expect you are both now feeling excited at the thought of the holidays. You'll have a gorgeous time. How I wish I were going to be with you. I shan't at all like Xmas. Still the time will soon pass after then and we shall be home again. Do be tidy whilst you are visiting my darlings both of you. Give people as little trouble as possible and do anything you can which will be a help in the house.
Of course I know you will. Rosemary you will help Nannie about your school things won't you.
You see I can't remind you about anything and after we leave Port Said on Wed 13 I shan't be able to post anything to you for 12 days.
Whilst I have been sitting here I have seen no end of camels passing quite close to me. They are true beasts of burdens! You see there are very few railways and horses couldn't possible manage these roads they are so sandy.
I think I shall have to divide this letter up and put half in one envelope and half in the other.
The little presents I got out of the bazaar. There wasn't anything very suitable for young people other than beads and you’ve both got several rows and Joy has them too I think.
I thought you would like the little clip Rosemary you can put it in the front of your stitched felt hat or wear it on your dress. Auntie Bee will tell you how to fix it. The little bracelet I thought rather pretty for Bunch and Joy. They are in silver with some other metal to keep them bright.
A very happy time tell us all you have done. Bless you both my precious ones. The biggest hugs from Mummy.
Union Castle Line,
S.S. "Landovery Castle"
Monday Dec 18
Envelope to Misses R & B Parkes, Lawnside, Malvern
Post marked Nairobi 1 Jan 34.
Here we are sailing down the Red Sea. Grilling. I'm wearing the minimum amount of clothes. 3 garments only! Still there is a pleasant breeze blowing this morning. It is all so interesting. We saw a couple of sharks when we were anchored off Port Said and later on lots of dolphins jumping out of the water. It was so fascinating watching them. The coast scenery has been marvellous. I really have never seen anything like the sunsets. The colours are beyond description.
Of course it is fun landing just for an hour or so at the various places. All the natives besiege you to buy their beads and what not.
We saw the real woolly headed people at Port Sudan. They trooped on board and unload. The worst of arriving anywhere at night time one gets practically no sleep because they make such a noise taking on and off the cargo. We are looking forward to arriving at Aden at 6 am tomorrow (Dec 19). We get about 4 hours ashore so I suppose we shall be called with glasses of orange juice (Daddy and I have this every morning at 7!!) at about 5 am - you see the sun rises at 6 o'clock and sets at 6 now. We shall rush round and do a bit of site seeing and I hope to do a bit of buying!
They have just brought round ices (11 am) - we got soup when we were in the Mediterranean at this time. Ices are served umpteen times during the day - personally I do not find them refreshing. Tea is more cooling I think but then it is not particularly good on board.
Our time you know is 3 hours ahead of yours in England. So I suppose you are just having break. I'm wondering Romie how you will enjoy having your hair done. It was today I arranged for you to go.
There are some very interesting people on board. We can have far more Bridge than we desire. We play with a couple of old generals - they are good fun and play a nice game so we enjoy it very much.
There are lots of small children on board. They have a great time. It is not a very big boat but quite steady. The officers are jolly crowd. Course there is dancing every night.
We were very tired when we got on board at Port Said. You see we'd had 12 hours train journey, mostly over the desert. We were smothered in sand so we were quite glad to get into our little beds. Too we were very hungry. We'd not been able to get any dinner so we got nothing to eat until 10.30 at night. This is rather rambling. I hope you will be able to fathom it all. Daddy has written too. So I think I must stop, but love to Uncle and Auntie and to the Smiths when you see them. You will be due there when you get this.
Fondest love Mummy
Union Castle Line,
S.S. "Landovery Castle"
Dec 21st 1933
We passed Cape Guardafui (look on the map for it) at about 5 o'clock yesterday and are now forging our way down the East Coast of Africa. I am hoping when we get to Mombassa on Xmas Eve there will be an air mail so I thought I would get a wad in to you. We get a train up to Nairobi the day we land and travel all night arriving about 3.30 Xmas Day. I shall very much wish I was spending it at home, I know. We've managed to get through the Red Sea without anybody expiring with the heat. It was very hot and airless for 2 days particularly when we got to Port Sudan.
We called at Aden 2 days ago. We went ashore and did a short ride round in a bus. That's a hot place if you like. Backed by the most forbidding rocks or rather mountains you ever saw. A dreadful place to live in I should imagine, tho' folks say it isn't too bad because there is always some excitement because of the ships which are calling there everyday. Note This They have not had any rain for 5 years! Imagine it.
When the boats land at this place, thousands of natives flock to the side offering things for sale. A certain amount are allowed to sell on board too. Ooh how they smell!
There is a strong breeze blowing this morning - lovely. The boat is rolling somewhat too. There are various games going on - deck quoits - you throw flat rubber disks about the size of a tea plate into a ring marked out on the deck. I'm getting quite good at it, swank! Did tennis, horse and dog racing. I've never picked a winner! Then most evenings there is dancing. We generally get roped in for some bridge!
Well, Ro. I'm wondering how your hair looks. Do ask Uncle to take a snap of you both and let me have it. Of course you are with Aunt Hilda. Perhaps she would get it done at once. You will have to take a bit of trouble with it and keep it looking nice. Don't have it cut at all. I shouldn't of I were you. It ought to last at any rate until the Easter holidays without cutting. I am simply longing to hear all about everything from you both. I suppose you are really skating from all the accounts we hear weather is cold in England and lots of ice about. All the bright young things on board are decked out in the most attractive shorts, backless pyjama suits and what not. Just suit you two!
Well don't be too roisterous at Fernleigh - poor Auntie Hilda and Uncle Kenneth. I know what a pandemonium it will be all the time. You'll go up to the Manor House I expect. Tell me how the animals are. They will be glad to see you. Of course I don't know how we shall be able to repay people for their kindness to you both. Give our love to all the "Sheegs" would you. Wish we could drop in amongst you all. Fondest love and hugs from your Mummy.
New Stanley Hotel,
Dec 27. 1933
My Darling Bunchie
I thought I would enclose a note to each today and talk
about Xmas ----- --. Your lovely letter arrived this morning, I'm sorry you've
had a bit of a cold but I hope it is better. What a busy time you've had
getting ready for Xmas. I've felt so out of it all. I am sure everybody seems
extraordinarily good and kind to us both. Well I said "Happy Xmas" to
Daddy at about 5.30 in the morning from my bunk on the train. It was just
beginning to get light and there we were chuffing along. You see the engine has
to work very hard because there are some enormous climbs. Well we got up washed
and cranked our necks out to try and see the wonderful Kilimajaro (I've told
you all about it in R's letter). We went along and had breakfast at 6.30 am.
People on the train just said Happy Xmas. You were all sound asleep - our time
is 2 1/2 hours ahead of yours. It was a most heavenly morning and after we'd
finished breakfast we got off the train - we were at a station by this time -
and wandered about for about 2 over the wild desolate country. I mean that we
were miles and miles from any form of civilisation, all the wild animals
roaming about. Well when we got here at the hotel the agent met us and had
lunch with us. In the aft. we unpacked and had a rest because we were very
We went out for tea with some people who had come on the ship with us to another hotel where there was a wireless so that we could hear the King's Xmas message. It came through very badly but we heard quite a lot of it and of course we stood up when "God save the King" was played. We knew you would be all listening at home so we wanted to do the same thing at the same time (it was 5.30 here). We were thinking of you and Romie and everybody at home and hoped you would give a little thought to Mummy and Daddy. I did so long to be with you. We sat with the same people for dinner we'd travelled with. Had turkey and the most excellent Xmas pudding. I drank a toast to "absent friends"
We played bridge afterwards and went to bed about 11.30. We'd had a very tiring 3 days. The last night on board was very roisterous. Didn't go to bed until past 12. Well then everybody was up again before 6 to see the ship enter harbour at Mombasa. It really was a gorgeous sight just sailing up the creek. We shall spend 2 nights in Mombasa next week. We get on board the "Kenya" on Jan 7. So we shall get letters I hope telling us about Xmas before we leave. You are both very very good girls to write such long and interesting letters. Fond Fond loves and Hugs, Mummie.
New Stanley Hotel,
Dec 27th 1933
My Darling Romie,
The air mail has just come in. Your letter written from Uncle Cyril's. You sound all nice and cheery. I'm glad your hair is a success. I'm dying to see what you look like. Do send me a snap. We arrived here on Xmas morning at 11 am having left Mombassa at 3 o'clock in the afternoon the day before. The heat was intense travelling up. As you know we are absolutely in the tropics. It was a wonderful journey and saw thousands and thousands of the horses wild types ostriches, zebras, all sorts of buck, wildebeest, a sort of buffalo roaming about in the distance. Kenya really is a most marvellous country the vegetation is so wonderful. Here where we are over 5000 ft up flowers such as we grow at home are all blooming now in great profusion - lovely sweet scented violet, carnations roses. The various sorts of herbaceous stuff - they all seem to be blooming at the same time and jumbled up with them. You get oranges, lemons, limes, bananas, melons etc.
Now down at Mombassa which is at sea level the vegetation is absolutely tropical. But on the was up we had very good views of Kilimanjaro the highest mountain in Africa. We saw it at 6 o'clock in the morning, the sun had just risen. It looked enchanting it is absolutely snow covered and looked like and enormous iced pudding. I've seldom seen anything more beautiful.
We had to wait 2 hours on a little station and we walked out over the plains to try and get near some animals but as we advanced they moved off. They weren't near enough of course to photograph. Daddy has tried to take some films of some of the natives but whenever they see a camera they run off and hide. I believe they think it casts some spell on them! The little children are sweet and coal black. They wear nothing but a few beads. The women wear very little more and seem to be nothing more than beasts of burden while the men sit and look on! But it is very interesting going right on to the little native villages. Their houses are little round mud huts with cane or course grass roofs, perhaps half dozen of them together in some dense jungle. I can't think what they live on, only the coarsest of grain and what they can catch I suppose. Still I imagine their needs are few. Nairobi is a very nice town indeed. It might be England except of course the streets are full of black people. The shops are quite good and run by English people. You see there is a very big English settlement in Kenya and this is their chief town, All the hotels are full of white people. No coloured. The English settlers have taken farms - coffee mostly and some cattle, right away miles up country and I suppose they come down here occasionally to do shopping etc. The Kenya and Uganda Railway is run by white people too. I do hope all this isn't boring you but there is such heaps to tell you and that I know will interest you.
I will talk about Xmas in Bunchie's letter. There is another letter to come along with this which I wrote on the ship but there has been no airmail out since we arrived and the ordinary mail takes so long. There was a very welcome when we arrived - a big airmail from England and your Xmas letters were awaiting us so that makes two we've had. I am enclosing a picture of the Xmas mail arriving here. Your dear letters are in those bags. I thought it would interest you.
Your reports came today too. We are quite pleased with them. Miss Barrows speaks so nicely of you both. I must write to Bunch now. The happiest New Year to you.
Fondest love Mummy.
New Stanley Hotel,
Jan 1st 1934 9.15 am
I am sending this by ordinary mail - there is a
specially quick one this morning - I thought it might arrive at Lawnside when
you get back and be there to welcome you! Horrible of me to think of school so
far ahead. Still one has to do these things sometimes. We have so often arrived
at a place and found the air mail just gone and at these far away places the
air mail leaves only once a week. We were very tempted to fly to Entebbe on Sat
(Dec 30) to see the Adsheads on the Imperial Airways which carries the mails.
It only takes 4 hours from here a distance of 460 miles (36 hours in the train.
Very slow travelling by train in this part of the world) but the expense was
too great. £20 each return (note by A3m = £900 2004). We should have had
to return on the Tuesday following by the plane which carries the mails from
England. It is a general holiday here today. New Year's Day but Daddy has
arranged interviews with a new people in the hope of getting some orders. We
are hoping to go out for lunch to a Colonel Franklin, a rather important person
in these parts. They live at a beautiful place called ----. His daughter - an
old Roedean girl - has a tea farm. I hope Daddy will be able to manage to get
as they are having a party and I should like to see their place. Soo the girl
said they would be picking (the tea buds) today - the natives never seem to
By the way I am having a pair of red shoes trimmed with grey lizard made in the native bazaar. They have copied a pair of my own shoes for shape and what not. If they are a success I am going to get them to make another pair. I've got a very nice white suit - a knitted cardigan suit - trimmed with scarlet. Its really rather smart!
Yesterday the agent's son took us out in the car for the whole day over the most awful roads - you see only one or two main roads are made and I've never seem such dust in all my life. It is absolutely red. The red soil you see is good for the coffee. It was an open car - it had the hood up - so we were smothered. We went over a big coffee estate and saw the different stages through which the coffee has to go before the beans are sent over to England to be roasted - all very interesting.
Some of these farms you know are very high. 8000 ft up. The altitude I understand is rather trying to one's health and nerves. People have to go back to England about every two years or so in order to keep fit. I am writing this in the hall at the hotel. Crowds of men are hanging around - all wishing each other a "happy new year". I can't think it I New Year's Day. I'm wondering of you stayed up to see the New Year in - we didn't! We had thought of going to a dance at the hotel opposite but were rather tired after our long days motoring so Daddy and I said happy new year to each other in our bedroom - we've got a lovely room - with a bathroom - all the furniture is chromium plated - beautiful fittings etc. It's most comfortable.
Well I must stop now. You see I shall be writing to you again in a day or so to catch the air mail so I must be careful not to say already what I have said in this letter.
Such very big loves and hugs darlings. Do your best at school this term. You can do good work I know. I want you to work for the sake of Lawnside so that the school will be proud of you.
Your very loving mummy.
Mombasa Club, Mombasa
Saturday Jan 6 1934
I must write very small as I have no thin paper - and they are so careful about the airmail weight. We had a very good journey by train here from Nairobi (18 hrs). I slept all the night from about 10 to 6. Very good for me. We saw lots of game on the way down.
The night before we left a Mr Mitchell took us out in his car right into the big game country. We got within 10 yds of Giraffe - enormous fellows some of them weighing about 2 tons each. We went right over the veldt in the car - the animals don't mind the car as much as people. It was most thrilling. We hoped and hoped to see lion, but no luck in spite of the fact that we waited until it was dark. It was a most exciting ride back. The road was nothing more than a track in parts. We saw lots of eyes glowing out in the dark. Mr Mitchell shined his spot light on to them.
Of course it is tremendously hot down here, fortunately there is a breeze blowing from the sea or I think I should expire! We are staying at the club as you will see. We had to be introduced by a member. It is awfully nice. It stands on a little headland jutting out into the sea so that it is about the coolest spot in Mombasa. There is a big swimming pool which is filled by the tide. You see people don't bathe much in the open sea because of sharks which hover around - I believe there are one or two other bathing places which are netted in. One has to bathe early morning or after 4.30 - the sun is much too dangerous during the rest of the day. I suppose if one wore sufficient protection on the head it would be alright.
We bathed yesterday after tea and again at 7 a.m. There were two little children (English of course) aged about 3 and 5 who were paddling about just like puppies - in the deep end which is I suppose 6.6 or 7 feet. They jumped in off the diving board. I've never seen anything so funny. Their "nannies" were big fat round nigger women dressed in the vividest of colours but with white caps on their heads - they looked so odd.
When we were in Nairobi we met --- Atkinson - you remember she had the school before Dilys always known as "Mrs At" She came to see us off at the station. Her husband is the chief engineer on the railway. She has a little girl of 8 1/2 - Elizabeth - she's a very good rider and won the first prize at the agricultural show which was on whist we were in Nairobi.
Our boat "Kenya" arrived in Killindini which is the port of Mombasa this morning and we sail at 4 o'clock tomorrow. I'm afraid it will be somewhat warm. You see we are in a very hot zone.
Darlings I hope you are both well and not too worn out after such a marvellous holiday. You won't forget to thank people. A little note would be very nice and appreciated I am sure. You may not hear from us for another fortnight. You see we may miss the mails. There isn't one of any sort out from here to England for another 6 days so we shall just have to leave this at the hotel to go when the mail is collected.
Be happy and do god work. How I am looking forward to seeing you both. I expect you will have grown. Fondest love cherubs. Your own Mummie.
(Note at top of one page:
I hope you don't mind having joint letters but postage is such and item!
The spiders here are very fine specimens. I can see a couple now Their bodies as big as a shilling. They give me the shudders!!)
JOSIAH PARKES & SONS (South Africa) LTD.
MANUFACTURERS OF LOCKS AND BUILDERS' HARDWARE
AGENTS FOR JOSIAH PARKES a SONS LTD., WILLENHALL, ENGLAND
72 CENTRAL ROAD • FORDSBURG • JOHANNESBURG
W.F Boustred (Chairman)
R. J. JESSON
F. G. W. SUTTON
TELEPHONE No. 33-3794
I am waiting for Daddy at the works, so I am seeing if I can remember how to type.
To-morrow we are going to stay with the Boustreds at their farm on the Vaal river for one night.
It is about an hour away by car. They have got two
motor boats Toun. You would like it! One is a cabin cruiser, which will hold
several people, and the other is a speed boat. The Vaal is quite like the
Thames at Henley, where we feed the swans on the way to Bunch's. You remember
Lindley. They haven't got any electric light, or a telephone there. They have
motors which do all sorts of things, pump up the water from a well, another to
make electricity. The motors are run by parafin. Their farm is a long way from
I am finishing this at the Vaal, sitting looking at the river. We had a lovely day yesterday in the boats. Daddy and I did some aquaplaning. You do this on a very big surfboard behind a speed boat. You stand up on the board. It was very great fun. I have never tried it before
Hope you are both well I am missing you.
Wed Jan 31st
My own dear Children,
Our stay at Johannesburg is nearly at an end for tomorrow we go up to the Victoria Falls - which are world famous. People say they are finer than Niagara. We leave here by train Thurs night at 9.30 and arrive Sunday morning at 9 at the Falls - we get several hours stay at Bulawayo though. Imagine it 3 nights on the train. We leave again Tuesday a.m. and arrive here Thursday night. Then after a nights real rest at this hotel we leave for Durban. One step nearer home!
This place is all Town so we shall really be glad to get away from it though people have been most kind inviting us out to dinner and what not. There is one charming spot here - the country club. Most delightful grounds all games can be played there, big swimming pool etc. We've been out several times - people entertain their friends there quite a lot.
This hotel has been crowded with young people the weekend all going back to school. This is the end of their summer holidays you see. Some of them have travelled hundreds of miles from the out lying country. You see this is the biggest town in S. Africa and the schools are very grand.
Last night we went to the most marvellous cinema I've ever seen. In side it represents the outside of an old castle, - the ceiling is so done that it looks like the sky at night - stars shining and clouds continually rolling by. So you have the feeling of being outside. It really is a wonderful place. The pictures were good too. So many topical things. We saw the "Three Little Pigs" - a colour film. You know the "Micky Mouse type". They say "Who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" we loved it. In fact it was so popular that they did it over again at the end of the show. Daddy roared. We've really had a gay weekend altogether. Daddy has gone off to Pretoria today. I was going but I really feel I must begin cleaning up. There is a lot of packing to be done. We shall only take a couple of bags with us up to the Falls. Did I tell you we had experienced two earth tremors since we have been here. We literally shook in our beds one night. People say it is to do with the mines which run all under the Town. I'm feeling madly excited when I think of April 9 - you will come to meet us f course. We will make the necessary arrangements. Perhaps Auntie B and Uncle C will be coming. If not you can go to S'hampton to the Huntons. When do you break up? I hope you are both well and happy at school. The trouble is we shall miss this week's mail - it doesn't arrive in until after we've left. So I shall have to wait for your precious letters until we get back next week.
There is a very good zoo here. I took myself there one day. There were some huge tortoises - one was very busy scratching on enormous hole - just like Sam used to do. I wondered if he was thinking of the winter time. Another fellow was rolled on his back and couldn't get up.
Darlings, I must stop - the biggest loves and hugs your own Mummy.
Lutjes Langham Hotel
My Darling Romie
As you will see from the above we are still here. Didn't go to the Falls after all. The very day we were leaving I was a bit "shivery" so we decided it was unwise to go - it is an awful journey and then not a healthy spot at this time of year, when you get there - one is very apt to get malaria - we wanted to run no risk. Now we can't fit it in. It is a pity, but still. There are lots of other interesting things to be seen, I am sure.
I am bust cleaning up again because we are leaving this hotel tonight, packing and unpacking becomes a bit wearisome.
I am looking forward to my day with the Boustreds - people we have met here. I like them very much. They have such a nice house and garden. All the servants are black you know except their "Nannie" who is English.
We were out at the theatre with them last night to see "Mother of Pearl". A very good show. It was just like being in a London theatre, absolutely everyone in evening dress. It was a first night. The principal actress was showered with flowers and presents. I never saw any thing like it. Jo'burg is a very gay place. I shan't be at all sorry to leave and get somewhere quieter. Do read the cutting I have enclosed in B's letter about the Butterfly? It was an amazing sight.
Darling I am sorry your nose has been troublesome - I do hope it is alright again. Auntie Bee said what a "brick" you were when Mr Thomas cauterised it. Bravo! Are you well. Putting on a bit if weight I hope. I'm longing to see what you look like with your hair waved. Don't have it cut or you will soon loose the "perm". I trust you are not being "shorty" with new girls. Do a bit for them cos just remember when you were "new" and what it was like.
I am glad you are both keen on the ???? You must certainly put in some time next hols and have some lessons because I am most anxious for you to really skate well whilst you are young so that you will be expert when you go to Switzerland!!!
What are you doing about money? Miss Barrows will finance you if you ask her. I am thinking you will have to go straight from school to Southampton. Won't that be thrilling.
Did I tell you that Elsie Fisher who rigged you out for Bredenbury now has a shop here. I met her. She was terribly pleased to see me and very interested to hear about you. I had to go round and take your photograph for her to see. She remembered Bunchie too. I don't think there is any more news at the moment. I must pack. Fondest love and hugs my pet.
Cutting about an invasion of white butterflies enclosed.
Invaders Hold Up
The army of millions of white butterflies, which have been migrating from the Transkei and Bechuanaland during the past few weeks, invaded Johannesburg in full force yesterday like a snowstorm.
In all the suburbs the air was at times, white with butterflies, carried north-ward by the breeze. The butterflies appeared in numbers, which have rarely been seen in the City before and in many places thousands, settled on trees and bushes so that gardeners became alarmed at what they thought to be fore-runners of destructive pests.
At the Old Johanian's cricket ground in Norwood the cricket match between the Old Johannian and the Wanderers was held up for half an hour after the tea interval as the it was so thick with butterflies that players were unable to see the ball. Cranes and other large birds at the Zoo spent a busy afternoon catching and eating the butterflies.
NOT A PEST
Entomologists, to whom this-butterfly is known as belenois mesentina, are emphatic that these butterflies are not a serious pest.
" They do not attack any cultivated crops" said an entomologist, to a "Rand Daily Mail" representative last night. "They have nothing to do with the army worm, the stork borer or any grass-eating caterpillars. One cannot blame people for being scared, but this butterfly is not a serious pest and only attacks certain indigenous shrubs".
This opinion is backed up by a statement issued by the entomological section of the Division of Plant Industry in Pretoria, which says:
"It often happens that at about the time when migrating, butterflies are conspicuous there are also invasions of caterpillars and army worms. The butterflies, however, have nothing to do with these.
MOTHS THE DANGER
"The caterpillars concerned in the outbreaks of army worm and lawn
caterpillars are the progeny of moths. These moths are night flyers and are seldom seen in the day time. As they lay their eggs unseen, the first evidence of their visit is when the caterpillars are already well grown and have begun to do appreciable damage, while the harmless but conspicuous butterfly gets all the blame."
Entomologists, however, know very little about why the butterflies migrate or where they are bound for if anywhere in particular. Prevailing winds probably influence their course to a great extent and the need of fresh food supplies for future caterpillars is
thought to be one of the causes for migration.
Lutjes Langham Hotel
Wed 6 1934
My Darling Bunchie,
You have both been so splendid in sending such long letters, thought I would write to you separately this week - though as you may imagine I really do a terrible lot of writing. Most weeks to Grannie, Auntie Bee, Hilda, Nannie etc etc. Postage ruins me!!! But really everybody at home is most kind in writing to us. We had an enormous air mail on Sat morning. Well, my lamb you are well settled at Lawnside now. I am sure the quieter life of school will be good for you after the very hectic holidays you have had. I am very sorry the band in your mouth is troublesome. Don't let it rub your gums or anything like that. Be sure to speak to nurse or Miss Barrows about it. I don't want you to feel wretched about it.
Miss Barrows told me you had passed your Dancing Exam. I am so glad. I do hope this tooth business won't hinder your verse speaking I want you to get on with that. What a jolly party the Dibbs gave for you people. I had a long letter from Mrs Dibbs. I really don't know how I shall repay people for all their kindness to you.
We must give a party in the Easter holidays I think.
People here have been most kind to us. We've been asked out such a lot and today I am leaving this hotel today until Friday with Mrs Boustred. They are very nice people. They have 3 children and have a most attractive house a few miles out of Jo-burg. You see Daddy is going off tonight to visit one or two small towns and I shall meet him in Durban on Sat. I've 20 hours train journey on my own!
When we get there, I shall really feel we are on the homeward "treck"! Yesterday we spent in Pretoria and went over the Government Bld - Houses of Parliament so to speak. They are very fine. Situated on a hill and surrounded by beautifully laid out grounds.
We motored out there with Mr & Mrs Waddell of Oaken who have arrived here. It really was a beautiful drive. On Sat I took Daddy to the zoo but it was scorchingly hot. We didn't stay very long. Over the weekend there has been a sort of plague of butterflies. Millions of them the sky was absolutely dense at times and looked a heavy snow storm. I am enclosing a cutting about them. I've never seen anything like it. They have been about for 9 days but I see no signs of them.
I am very interested to hear all the school news. Be kind to the new girls. Are you still friendly with Apm Winter. Tell me about everything won't you. We so often think of you and imagine what you are doing.
I had a long letter from Nannie written after you had gone. She told me all was well wt the Manor House etc. I think she is anxious to get back there as is little Bertie. Won't it be lovely when we are all settled in again.
Darling you won't forget Joy's birthday on March 8th will you and it is David's on Feb 23, I am going to send him some money. I think I must get on now to Romie's letter - you must read each other's. I have to divide up the news! Bye Bye my precious a very big big hug. Your own Mummy
I hear you went back to school cheerily. Good!! Miss Barrows has written very nice letters about you both. It is good of her.
Hotel Edward, Durban, Natal
Tuesday Feb 13 (from EAP)
My Dear Darlings
We had to wait an extra two days for your letters this mail. You see I left Johannesburg on Friday a few hours before the air mail came in. So they had to be forwarded on to us here and came yesterday a.m. for which cheers! Well this is a very nice jolly place. Poor Daddy doesn't feel like work though. Feels he ought to be on holiday. We are at a very nice hotel opposite the sea and I'm writing this on my balcony watching enormous waves dash over. Daddy bathes morning and evening. I haven't been in yet because I've lost my bathing dress somewhere however I bought a new one yesterday so I hope to go in this evening. Its very hot indeed. People simply love in the water. I've never seen such brown "bodies" in all my life. Swimming in impossible in the open sea as I told you the waves are so colossal. I've watched the men just lie on their tummies and come in on the waves. Its all surf bathing.
There is an enormous bathing pool right on the shore where you can swim. Sea water of course which is changed continually.
We went along the jetty on Sunday morning. They were catching sharks but we didn't see any actually brought in. Again Daddy was disappointed. The sun caught my shoulder bones and my gracious they are sore absolutely burning colour.
Durban as you know is quite an important port. At the moment I can see two quite big vessels outside waiting for pilots to go out and bring them in. The Caernavon Castle the boat on which Prince George came out arrived here on Sunday. There are great preparations going on in S. Africa for his reception.
What bad luck you having measles at school. Don't either of you children dare get it again. Rosemary you must not say d--- I don't like it and I'm sure Miss Barrows wouldn't be pleased to hear any of you say it - remember darling won't you. I want you both to be a good influence at school. How did you get on with your prefects job. Alright I hope. I know you'll understand 'cos I hate to preach!
Dear me I am longing to see you both again. What a holiday! Terribly glad about Bunch's dancing. I think I told you though in my last week's. Is the "band" comfy now? I hope so. Rather jolly going home for the day wasn't it.
We stay here until Feb 21st and then go on by boat to East London and I think stay there for a week. I think we have now done most of the travelling by train which is a good thing for it is very tiring - so dusty and hot. The rickshaw men dress up here in a most fantastic manner. I must send you a postcard of them. They white wash their legs and paint all sorts of queer designs on them. I haven't seen much of the country yet but will tell you more about it in my next letter. You see the mail leaves here a day earlier so I haven't had time to look round yet. We are in a very nice hotel with such nice bedrooms so all is well.
Fondest Love my angels.
Hotel Edward, Durban, Natal
Sunday Feb 18
My own Darlings
This is a marvellous place. I shall be sorry to move on. Its unusually pretty. The town rises to a hill at the back called "The Berea" (this means "hillside"). Most of the presidents live there and get the most charming views - of course it is thoroughly tropical. We have met such exceptionally nice people here who simply cannot do enough for us. We have more invitations than we can cope with! Daddy is away at tennis this morning (I've been ironing! Getting on with letters as I don't seem to have got a free moment before we leave on Thursday) and he was asked to play golf at 6 a.m.!! Imagine it. He refused. Can you see him getting up at that hour to play golf? We were at a tennis party yesterday aft. at the country club. I didn't play. I was fetched later for tea and on the way I saw quantities of Monkeys playing about in the trees and lots on the footpath. They make their home in the "bush". They really looked rather attractive even though I dislike monkeys. They were rather a pretty green colour.
They will jump onto your car if you stop along the roadside in the hope of snatching something I expect.
Mrs Henwood, a lady at whose we dined the other night told me that quite often they have pounced onto her child's pram and snatched a rusk or what not from the little girl!!
I have had Rosemary's letter this morning. Sorry Bunch's plate is giving so much trouble but guess she feels lucky to have had a weekend off!!
Bunch, you must not go on unless the plate is quite comfortable, so don't hesitate to tell Miss Barrows should there be any discomfort. You know it is a nuisance.
I do hope you are will both keep fit this term. I'm wondering how the "beaches"(?) is getting on. I'm hoping that it was nipped in the bud and that nobody else will get it.
Well, to go on with what we are doing.
Yesterday afternoon we went out with the Nelson's? - Mary Hill's friends - a doctor and his wife) - we like them very much and they have done no end for us. Had us to dinner. Mrs. takes me out in the morning and what not. We went along the coast and saw the enormous seas that were raging - only one boat could get into the harbour yesterday. It was not safe to attempt it. I've never seen anything like it - a great part of the lower promenade is washed away. I'm sending you a paper so that you can see what it has been like. How I wish you could be here to see. I'm sitting out on my balcony, it is really most pleasant. The sea is still very rough but looks much calmer than it was yesterday. Do you know Daddy and I went down to bathe before breakfast yesterday and they wouldn't let us! They always have scouts out along the shore. So can you imagine what seas they get.
On the way home from our drive yesterday we stopped the car near a lot of trees - only 2 miles from Town - ??? some bananas and down came the monkeys. Daddy was awfully amused and interested. I was awfully glad he saw them because he wasn't with me the other day when I saw them on the roadside. We saw several baby ones too. They truly are rather sweet. Should you attempt to pick one up, the whole clan will be down on you in an instant - the big ones become very fierce.
Tomorrow we are going to Pietermaritzberg. It is a very beautiful drive there. I've seen part of the country. We go through the valley of a "thousand hills" which is rather wonderful.
Of course its terribly hot. I never wear more than a bust bodice. Very? Their little casets. Knickers (short and wide legged!!) and a petti Oh and of course my frock. Daddy just wears a silk washing suit. He got 3 made at the Indian tailors when we were up in Kenya.
We sail from here on Thursday for East London. It takes only the night to get there, but is a round about way by train. I think we have to be there for a week then we will go on again by boat to Port Elizabeth and I think we are going to do the journey from there to the Cape by train I easy stages, if there is such a thing on the S.A. railways!! The country is so very pretty along that route that people say we oughtn't miss it.
I sent you a card of a rickshaw boy. There are masses of them all over the place. They run along in a most extraordinary manner. Seems no effort for them to pull these things along with 2 people in them. They get themselves up in such a marvellous fashion too.
In this part of the world there are very beautiful flowering trees such as we don't have in England. One which is very striking is called Flamboyant Accacia. It is about as big as our big ?? trees and bears a huge red flower most beautiful. You've no idea what avenues of them look like. Then there is another called "Jacoranda". It looks like a mimosa tree (the Swansons have a huge mimosa in their greenhouse) only that the flowers are a heavenly blue. They have been a sight. Though the vegetation is so prolific flowers have very little smell. The heat I suppose.
There is what looks like a giant Iris. It is called "Canna" and grows like a weed, absolutely all over the place. The colours are most varied and startling - wish we had something like it at home for it requires practically no care or attention and some day you will both be able to come out with Daddy! Everybody hopes we'll come back again.
It is my dearest wish in my heart that you shall both have the opportunity to travel and "get on" whilst you are at school. I must fly now my lambs. Somebody is calling for me at 11. Very big loves and hugs. Your own Mummy.
Sunday Feb 25th 1934 Sunday morning on the sands.
I thought I would write your letter in two parts today so pass Bunch's on down to her will you.
Daddy is lying on the beach all wet hoping he will "brown". Its just the sort of day we'd appreciate every day during our summer holidays, not unbearable hot. I expect you are having some nice sunny days now with all the bulbs coming up. Lawnside garden is beginning to look nice I know. I hope there will be some daffodils left when we get home. I wonder if you will go for that picnic again this year and pick the wild ones. Of course they don't grow bulbs in S. Africa except in the high part of the country - much too warm for them . Of course there are many disadvantages in these places - one of them being insects galore, mosquitoes, white ants which ruin anything they attack. All sorts of horrid flies as well as smaller pests. England is easily the pleasantest place to live in considering all things. It is very nice visiting these places and I hope we shall be able to do more of it!
It will be quite queer to be back home and not having natives doing things for us. Ever since we left England we've been waited on by native servants - there are always white stewards in charge, but the black people do the bulk of the work everywhere. Waiters are usually Indians.
We've collected a few odd things for you and Bunch and Joy. Some rather smart bead belts which the natives make in Kenya among other things. All the "bright young things" up there wear them on their washing frocks. Anyway they will be uncommon in England!
I sent Joy a small string of worry beads and a cheque with which to buy herself something for her birthday. Its great fun collecting things to bring home but the carting of them about from place to place is somewhat of a trial. We had some assegai native spears and a shield given us in Durban
The natives who work in the town (niggers) always have to live out of the towns in what are called "locations". Servants live as a rule in huts provided for them at the backs of the houses. Of course the black who works on the land simply lives in a little mud or straw hut.
I shall have to explain all these things to you. Then too there are the Indian quarters in all these places. They (Indians) are vastly superior in every way to the nigger. I believe all the market gardening and what not is carried out by Indians.
I expect you will know P. George is touring round here. He lunched at our hotel the bay before we arrived. He was only a few hours in the place. It is quite a busy port because it is the chief wool exporting port of S. Africa.
I haven't seen much of the place yet - we are being taken out for a whole day up to the mountains on Wed by a customer. We are to have brek en route!
We sail on the Winchester Castle on Friday for Port Elizabeth only a night away - but to get to these places by train takes at least a couple or 3 nights in the train - the railway wiggles all round the place. It sounds ridiculous I know but its true. I can't give you exact details yet about meeting us but I think it will be the simplest thing for you to go straight from school to Southampton unless of course Uncle C is bringing you. I'm longing for the day. Each time we move on now I feel a step nearer. Only a month when you get this until we meet. Read Bunch's letter and let her read yours. Fondest love Mummy.
Part of Bunch's letter:
We've had a very hearty invitation to go back to Durban and we won't be allowed to stay in a hotel next time!
Pet I'm afraid this writing is very illegible. The wind is blowing and I have only a small book as a pad on my knee! So you must bear with it.
Well we sailed away at 3 and arrived here at 7 the nest morning not a bad passage at all though it is often very rough indeed all round this part of the coast.
There is not a very big harbour at East London so that the bigger boats have to anchor out in the bay and passengers are landed in a tug. We have had to land by this means ...... (torn letter)
... so passengers are put into and enormous basket about 8 at a time and lowered by the ships crane into the tug. A most exciting adventure because you swing about in the air, sometimes bumping the side of the steamer and finally land often with a "plop" on the tug which is heaving about. However this will soon be a thing of the past as they are enlarging the harbour and hope to have it ready next year. I am sending you a postcard of the basket. Keep it will you, Daddy took a snap of me going into it. I hope it will come out all right.
Head's Grand Hotel,
Monday, March 5 1934, 11 o'clock
My own Darlings,
The air mail leaves here today. Its rather slow from this place. You see it has to go by train! To Jo'burg and pick up the Imperial Airways on Thursday. We have just collected your mail (Feb 20), praises be, because we didn’t get a mail from you last week Feb 13 or from Auntie Bee - she very kindly writes every week too. Think they must have gone astray somewhere. Sorry you missed a mail from us but I have written every week exclusive of post cards. Well the time is getting beautifully nearer isn't it. 5 weeks today darlings we shall be together, How I am longing for it.
I hear how nice our garden is looking. Uncle C told us in his letter today. Butters I know has done his best to have it all lovely for when we get home. ??? ???? is there. She has been so good writing to me. She'll be seeing there is plenty of "spit & polish" ('scuse the vulgarity) put on everything. I'm afraid my writing gets rather bad at times, but I really do rather a lot and my hand seems to get a but shaky so forgive it.
Will we had a very stormy landing here from the Winchester Castle (a beautiful boat) on Sat a.m. Once again we were swung over in the basket. It is only very seldom they do that here, but they couldn't do otherwise on Sat, the sea was so rough. The journey to the landing jetty in those little tugs is really rather awful. The waves rear up and you feel that nothing can prevent their meeting and absolutely swamping the boat entirely. I had to hang on tight, thank goodness I wasn't "ick", that would have been too awful in front of everybody. Still crowds of people were and the job is to keep "it" from blowing on you - nasty thought! The Winchester should have left that same evening, but did not until 24 hours later. They had difficulty in taking on the cargo, wool, citrus fruit, hides etc.
We met Mr & Mrs Pinson on that boat. You remember - Jean Pinson's people. They were coming through England. They have had only a fortnight in Africa and haven't struck very good weather. It was sunless, I believe on the voyage out. Today is perfect after a very stormy weekend. It hasn't rained, but the SE wind has been so strong that it was really unpleasant to be out. We tried sitting out on the sands but it blew up and stung, horrible. Daddy managed a bathe, but I didn't think it worth while. I did so a few times at East London. I've never enjoyed bathing so much because it has been so pleasantly warm and you know how I hate to come out of the water and shiver! We have had two nights at an awful hotel on the beach - they couldn't fix us in here when we arrived - but we've moved at 9 o'clock this morning and it all looks very nice and comfortable. They have just brought round tea and biscuits (11.15 am). It is a fetish in this country this morning tea business. Absolutely everybody has it, men and women alike. ??? ?? one thing most people ???? Wherever we've been they seem to call us at about 6.30 with tea. Daddy used to get irritated, but now he has got used to it and wakes up early. The mornings rather make one feel glad to get up, they are all sunny and bright. I do hope it is a nice day when we land and when we arrive at Oaken. While I think of it, you will be very careful not to get near the edge of the dock in all your excitement when you come to meet us. Wowt?? you think! We haven't definitely decided if you shall go home first because we havn't heard from Uncle C, but if you don't Ashbrook will have to come over to Lawnside and collect your baggage. You will only need bags. The through train for Southampton leave B'ham somewhere about 11. You have to get to Snow Hill I from Malvern in time to catch that.
Romie darling, buck up and get back into Mrs Johnson's "good books". We are terribly interested as you know to hear about all your work - both of you - and I know you are getting on. I had a letter from Mrs B. today also she said all was well once again. I must go and do a spot of unpacking. I wanted to "do" my airmail or at least part of it first. Fondest love to you my angels.
How is your hair (R) looking?
Union Castle Line
This is the last lap but one! Port Elizabeth to Cape Town 2 days and nights. We ought really to have come on the Armadale Castle but as the Llangibby is a new boat 12000 tons sailed a day earlier and the Armadale a beastly old tub, the worst on the mail service we thought we would have a day extra at Cape Town.
All day long we have been ploughing thro' the "Cape Rollers" and the boat has pitched badly. Just here the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic and apparently they never agree! The weather is like April at home. Cold but sunny. Yesterday was a beast poured in torrents most of the day. I've been looking up the trains from S'hampton to W'hampton. We can and shall leave S. at 10.41 on 9.4.34 and arrive at W'p'ton at 2.44. We are feeling terribly thrilled tho' it’s a month on Monday till then. It feels like coming home on leave during the war! This boat has come all round Africa just as we have done. 21 months voyage. The mail boats go only the West coast route finishing at Durban and then back again. We are returning from the Cape on the mail boat Arundel Castle 19000 tons 4 funnels an old but good boat. I must go and change for dinner and finish later.
9 p.m. I'll just finish before I go to bed. We retire very early as a rule because life in all these places begins so early, On board and at the hotels they wake us up at about 6 unless I am very form and tell them not to!
The band is playing for dancing just outside the lounge in which I am writing. Its amusing to dance when the boat is rolling. You suddenly find yourself on the wrong side of the deck!
Do you know how many miles we have done? About 2500 by rail and when we get home 15000 by sea! In a year or two we hope to take you a lovely trip, if I can find an excuse on business and I can find the money to pay for you. I think Rosemary you will have to take school cert. first! Then perhaps we can get a term or part of one off!
Lots of Love Daddy.
Arthur's Seat Hotel
Sea Point (Cape Town)
I'm very pleased B.'s plate is now comfy. That's good.
This letter is dull but you must read it carefully
Your letters came yesterday we were glad to get them. We arrived on Sunday after a rough journey from P. Elizabeth. I spent a good part of Sat. in my cabin. For the first time I was "ick". I'm furious as I thought I was a pretty good sailor - however I was really very "patchy" and "tossy", Many people did not appear in the dining saloon. I hope that will be my only experience this trip at all events!
The hotel is opposite the sea and has a v nice garden - front not too bad. We feel we don't mind about anything now. We shall so soon be leaving for home.
Cape Town is rather a fine place. The mountains at the back are wonderful. There are 12 peaks in a row called the "Twelve Apostles". They are very fine. One sees them on the way round the E. Coast into the harbour. The weather is very bright and sunny but nothing like so hot as we have had it. We are looking forward to visiting the interesting places around. Went for a magnificent coast drive on Sunday. Called on ??? ?? ??? you remember him, we are dining with him tonight.
Now then, read carefully. I see you break up on the Thursday. Would you like to go home first with your luggage and travel down to S.hampton on the Friday by that 10.20 through train or shall you travel down with Auntie and Uncle C. I think you had better ask Miss Barrows and get her to ring Aunt Bee up. I am enclosing a cheque for £5. Miss B. will cash it for you. Give it to her immediately and don't lose the notes when you get them. If you travel alone you must take 1 and a half tickets - week-end return - Bunch travels half fare you see. Butters and Nannie could take you to W.hampton. Its S.hampton West you know and you would have to let the Hintons know in good time.
403 Shirley Rd,
I am telling you all this now because I know Aunt Bee is going to Rhos and also lest there should be any delay in the air mail. I don't think you will be allowed on board before 8 o'clock. We shall all being well get the 10.40 train home from S.hampton. I'm afraid we shan't be able to go out the Hintons. Now Romie you must just think things out for yourself.
Take care of your money and don't get flurried that is if you travel alone. I'm afraid this is not a newsy letter but I will tell you all that in my next and last one. Glad measles is better at school. Its rather upset things hasn't it. Very fondest love my darlings. Mummy.
Johannesburg: Happy Term: 20 Jan.
Arundel Castle, 29/3/34: Happy Easter
Post Card (P28-04)
to Mrs & Miss Lister
Post marked From Marseille - Gare. 24/11/1933
P & O SS Cathay 15,000 tons gross. Australia Mail and Passenger Service.
We've had a very good journey down. Just come on board 12-45. The weather is wonderful - warm and sunny. I hope we are in for a good trip. We sail at 12 tonight. Going to Marseilles after lunch.
28/11/33 Tuesday morning
My dearest mother and Gladys.
Well here we are getting near Port Said. We arrive there tomorrow morning at 6. Nice and early to have to turn out isn't it. The boat goes on to Bombay then to Australia. We have had a good trip so far, though for two days it was somewhat choppy. There was a high wind blowing so the ship rolled. I've managed to keep going - not missed a meal though for one day I didn't feel very hungry. It is a most beautiful morning, hot. Everybody has appeared in their summer clothes. We had a very good view of Stromboli the volcano as we passed. Smoke was pouring out. We couldn't see the flames as it was daylight. It very pretty passing through the Straits of Messina between Sicily and Italy. I wish we could have seen it in daylight though. We've had a very comfortable cabin. Only hope we shall do so in the other boats. The people on board are very friendly. At the moment they are all busy playing deck games, swimming in the long tank which is erected etc.
I can't write much as this is coming by air mail and can be only 1/2 oz (14 grs - AM). I had a letter from ??? the day I left. She said she should expect you for Xmas.
Send a card to Nannie and tell her you will expect her about Dec 13th or 12th. I am sure she will be a help to you. Fondest love._
Post Card (P28-04)
to Mrs & Miss Lister Dec 3rd
Cairo - The Mosque of Taghry Bardy
This is a special street. The ??? part of Cairo but of course strangely interesting. We went out to the desert yesterday see the Pyramids and Sphinx - a beautiful day and the colourings marvellous. Hope you are all well. Fondest Love.
Post Card (P28-04)
to Gladys 6/12/1933 Port Said:
PORT-SAID - Casino and Breakwater
This is the entrance to the harbour. I walked all along that jetty this a.m. A lovely whiff of the sea after dusty Cairo. We left there at 7 a.m. Been here all day and are catching the night train to Palestine. I am writing in the hotel you can see in picture. I feel rather homesick and tired. Fondest love E.
Post Card (P28-04)
to Mrs & Miss Lister Dec 6th
Cairo - General View with Citadel
I was very glad to have your letter. Do write as often as you can. We've had a very interesting time here. Arthur has not been able to do much sight seeing, but I've been taken by some people we were introduced to yesterday. I went into the desert. Amazing. Much love
Xmas Card 12/12/33 of Jerusalem.
Post Card (P28-04)
P/marked Paquebot Aden to Mr & Mrs Lister.
Union Castle Line to South and East Africa.
Intermediate Steamer "Llandovery Castle" 10609 tons
To Mrs & Miss Lister, 229 Tettenhall Rd
We arrive Aden tomorrow (Dec 19) at 6 a.m. for 4 hours. We shall all reach ashore. I suppose to see the place. It will be terribly interesting. We've called at Suez and Port Sudan - besieged by natives to buy their wares. Fond Love E.
Post Card (P28-04)
to Mrs & Miss Lister Jan 4 1934
We're just off now to Mombasa. Thank you for your letters which arrived yesterday and Nannies. Glad you all had such a happy Xmas. I will write to you on the boat again. These are the native women who seem to do all the work on the land. Fondest love to you both and remembrances to Nannie.
Post Card (P28-04)
This is a very good picture of the best street. The population of N. is 50,000 but only 17,000 whites in the whole country. Our hotel is on the extreme left (probably the Norfolk Hotel - AM). Hope you are all well, we are. Arthur.
Post Card (P28-04)
to Mrs & Miss Lister Jan 24
Munro Drive, one of the many picturesque Johannesburg roads.
It was a great experience going down the gold mine yesterday. All the same I was glad when we got back on the surface. Write to Cape Town c/o Thos Cook & Sons. We get there March 12 and leave March 23 the Arundel Castle. Arrive S-hampton abt 9. We had a gentle tremor the night before last and torrential rain.
Head's Grand Hotel, Port Elizabeth, Monday March 5 1934.
My dearest Mother and Gladys
Thank you very much for your letter (G) this morning. We arrived here on the "Winchester Castle" on Sat a.m. We had a very stormy landing indeed. The weather was so rough that the boat has had to stay an extra day in the bay because they simply could not get the cargo over to here. She had a lot to get away from this port. We saw Charlie Pinson and Jilly on board. She was very glad to see me. They are on their way back to England and will be home just a fortnight before us. They have only been doing a short trip. Left England on Jan 28th.
There doesn't seem a great deal of news. East London and Port Elizabeth are not particularly interesting.
It has been so terribly squally over the week end that it really wasn't pleasant to be out. We've had the worst weather this last 10 or 12 days that we've had since we left. Its much cooler too. Still we'd better hope for the Cape. We get there next Monday.
No we haven't seen P. George. A.J. was hoping we shouldn't run into him as business is apt to be slack when he is about! As a matter of fact, he left East London the morning we arrived - he'd lunched at the hotel we stayed in. He sleeps always on his train which is specially equipped for him.
I am glad Nannie came and gave you a helping hand. I've written to her today sent a bit of money to buy some flowers for Howard's birthday. I told her Butters must take her and that I expect your mother would like to go. I suggest the Saturday morning before his birthday which is on Monday.
I hear what beautiful weather you are having at home. I hope it will be nice when we land. Everything looks different. You see we are just beginning autumn here. Shops are selling winter goods! Yet everybody goes about in cotton or silk clothes. There is no such thing as daylight saving here. It is always dark even in the summer just after 7.
Well perhaps next mail I'll be able to tell you a bit more about Port Elizabeth or Algoa Bay as its called sometimes. I'm sorry it is such a dull letter. I hope you are both very well. Ethel
We had to be landed again in the basket here. I don't know what you would think of it - terrified I expect and when you saw too how you were tossed about.
Souvenir Letter Card (P28-04)
Arthur's Seat Hotel, Sea Point. (with photos of the hotel and surroundings)
March 14 1934 Tuesday
Dearest Mother and Gladys
Your letter and card came yesterday. I like to tell you so that your know we have received them. We arrived here (Cape T.) on Sunday a.m. after a very "tossy" journey. I spent a great part of Sat. in my cabin and it’s the first time I've missed a meal the whole of the trip. I was hoping to be able to say I was a good sailor. Still I can't grumble - it was really rather bad. We encountered the "Cape Rollers" and I think many people were "laid low"! Sunday a.m. was gorgeous as we entered the harbour like a mill pond and the scenery magnificent. It was just before 7 and the sun was rising at the back of the mts. There are 12 peaks known as the Twelve Apostles and then the famous Table Mountain. It’s a wonderful entrance to a harbour.
Cape T. is rather a fine town. All the municipal buildings in these places are so grand. Of course it is very busy with all the steamers coming and going. We are going out to dinner with ?? tonight. He lives at Muzenburg on the bay. 16 miles away. On Sunday aft. We went one of the finest coast drives I have ever been in my life. The weather is very bright and sunny, but cooler than we've had for many weeks. Not long before we meet now. Fondest love Ethel.
We have nor seen P. George. He is having a very good reception everywhere. They have vary detailed films of the proceedings at the cinemas.
Post Card (P28-04)
to Mrs & Miss Lister
Post marked Cape Town 20 Mar 1934.
Camps Bay, Cape Town.
Thank you for your long letters (G) this morning. We are having a wonderful time here its so beautiful. I've been taken to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope and ?? by some people. The most marvellous coast drive I've ever been. 90 miles. The weather is like ideal English summer weather. Met several very interesting people who have been most kind - Our boat arrived in the harbour today. We've a lot to crowd in the last 3 days. See you soon.
P.& O.S.N. COMPANY'S
Darlings I am writing a diary of our doings. You may not want to read it so I think I'll tell you what we are doing every few days by letter.
Its 6.30 pm now and we are in the straits of Messina. As it’s a very clear evening the town of Messina on the starboard side (Right Hand) and the town of Reggio look beautiful. Both were destroyed by an earthquake in 1908 when 130,000 people were killed. We passed Stromboli at 3.30 pm today. It is an island 8 miles in circumference and the volcano was smoking. About 4000 people live clustered on the slopes. Yesterday we passed through the straits of Bonifacio between Corsica and Sardinia but it was dark and there was nothing much to see. This afternoon the 2nd officer invited us onto the bridge and told us how the ship is navigated. Most interesting. The weather so far has been very windy and quite cold. Top coats for sitting on deck but plenty of sunshine.
28th There is nothing much more to tell you. We are nearing Port Said where we arrive at 6 tomorrow morning. The weather is warm and muggy and I hope shortly to bathe in a large tank on the deck.
We passed by the island of Crete yesterday evening but there was nothing to see except one light on a small island called Gavdo. The highest coast light in the world. People have been playing deck games but we have not. We do nothing but read eat and sleep an an occasional stroll round the deck. The boat goes on the Australia after calling at Bombay and Colombo. We are glad to be going no further than P.S. tho' she is a very nice steady boat and its just like being at a first class hotel at home. Practically all the passengers are English. I don't think there is any more news. I do hope you are both well and happy. The air mail leaves home today and so we shall hear from you on Monday. Lots of love, Daddy.
I am finding Egypt very interesting - I only wish I could describe it to you. The pictures you see do not exaggerate its picturesqueness at all. Nearly all the men wear "nightshirt" and a red fez on their heads. Some do wear European clothes but in the Bazaar where I went this morning all wear Arab dress. The main streets are very similar to a Southern European large town but the shops everywhere do not have windows the whole front of them is thrown open. I suppose they never have any cold weather. It rained yesterday, the first shower for a very long time and the people do not expect any more for weeks. It is about as hot as a nice day in May at home. We were very amazed on landing at Port Said yesterday. The Cathay was bombarded by wild looking arabs and the smell which came from the town was sickly. It is a large town as big as Wolverhampton (Cairo is as big as Birmingham). We are pestered by Arabs called Dragomen who want us to employ them as guides. Also there are lots of Arab men and boys who sell picture postcards, leather note cases and all sorts of things. They are a great nuisance. At the station at Cairo we were literally bombarded with Arabs who wanted to carry our bags and take us to the hotels they represented. Everybody makes a great noise shouting and its most amusing. Poor Mummy is not getting much sight seeing because I am working all day but next week I may have more time for sight seeing. Yesterday I had to go into the native part of the town to see a customer. The shops there are called Bayaans. They don't have shop windows quite open to the street. Parts of Cairo are really beautiful. The part of the Nile here is as big as the Thames at London and is quite beautiful. Tonight we are going out to dinner to some friends of the Warners. They live here.
Lot of Love Daddy.
I'm very sorry not to be writing to you oftener but I am really having a very busy time. I usually do not stop work till dinner time and then I have to make my works notes and I'm very tired. We seem to have had such a lot of entertaining. People have invited us out such a lot and made us very late. Sometimes Mummy has nearly gone to sleep in the friends houses! I ought to have a fortnight here at least to do my business and see some of the sights but we are tied down by our boat sailings and can't alter them.
We were delighted with our air mail tonight sent on from Cairo. You are all being most kind and its really thrilling to get you news.
I suppose Mummy is telling you the news - all about the holy places and the dead sea. Its more salt than the Brine Baths. It was too late in the evening for one to Bathe. I think three things have interested me the most. (1) Landing at Port Said, (2) crossing the Suez Canal in the ferry and being amused by and Arab boy conjurer on it and landing in Palestine - Asia (3) Seeing Jerusalem first on the top of its hill.
I must now go to bed its 10.30 and I've been writing since 8.30 and we did not get back from Jaffa and Tel Aviv till 7.30 so I'm tired.
We are looking forward to a nice long rest on the boat to Mombassa on Wed even though it will be hot.
Lots of love darlings, Daddy
Love at all at Pine Lodge and I hope you'll all have a very Happy Christmas. We shall think of you.
Union Castle Line
SS Llandovery Castle
We were delighted to get the wireless cable on the 16th. Tell Uncle Cyril. It arrived at about tea time and it had taken only 21 hours. I suppose you had arrived at Pine Lodge then. Probably you are skating this am. You know we have a small wireless newspaper every morning and we get most of the news including the weather from home. It is always most interesting reading. We are now getting very warm. We entered the tropics on Friday. They are between the Tropic of Cancer 23°N and the tropic of Capricorn 23°S but the heat has not been very trying yet. I am wearing my tennis clothes like most of the passengers, but it is impossible to keep cool. We landed for an hour on Sat Night at Port Sudan. There was nothing very much to see. Unfortunately it was dark. There are beautiful fishes in coral to be seen at the bottom of the see which is very clear and you are taken out in a row boat but only in daylight. Tomorrow we land at Aden for 4 hours and will probably have a tour of the place in a charabanc.
I can't write well. My hands are sticky and the pen bad. They have erected a swimming bath on board today - a canvas affair but really the water is too warm to be refreshing so I don't think I shall bother to go in. I shall see. We are playing a lot of bridge - listening to the band talking and reading. By the end of the week we shall be very glad of a change! You see the boat is rather small and you can't get much peace and quiet. The deck games are not much fun.
I expect you will be skating at Tong or somewhere else. I do hope it lasts for you over Xmas and that you get a little snow on Xmas day. Don't forget there's a toboggan at home.
Give my love to Auntie Bee and Joy and Uncle C.
With lots of love to you darlings. Daddy
I hope you can read this!
New Stanley Hotel,
A word with you now. I've just written to the Smith children. If you see them ask them to show you the letter. I suppose you will be at Mrs Swanson's when you get this letter. We had a wonderful mail this morning again. Your letters of the 19th with reports from Miss Barrows. I was very pleased with the reports. You are both very good children. I am very proud of you! I'm sorry I am nt writing more but really I do not get much time. You see I'm working all day and then I have to make notes of the business I do and that means a lot of writing and it always seems that there's somebody to write to. Mummy tells you what we are doing I know. I do hope the cine films come out well. You will be interested I am sure to see them. I should like to get some of big game but I doubt of we shall be able to get near enough. We have seen quite a lot. Wildebeeste (pronounced Vildebeast) Zebra Ostrich and lots of kinds of gazelle. My customers are English and Indian. The local natives are coal black but do no business. They live in little villages of houses about as big as bell tents made of straw. They are servants and never wear shoes! We had great fun in photographing them yesterday. One man was quite fierce and had a great big knife which frightened us to bits!
We have had a very quiet Xmas. Last night Boxing Day we went to bed at 9! Its difficult to realise we are on the Equator. The weather is just like a perfect English summer day every day. It rains in Nov-Dec and again in Feb-Mar otherwise they have none, tho' 150 miles away it rains every afternoon as regular as clockwork!
It is very interesting comparing the 3 countries and the inhabitants. I can't describe them very well I'm afraid. Cairo is a great big place as big and more beautiful than Birmingham, Jerusalem is beautiful too and so is Nairobi but that is quite small only 50000 people. Everywhere the native quarter is called the Bazaar and Europeans and Natives do not mix except in the streets. The Nile delta tho' is a terrible place - the natives (arabs) live in the most appalling mud houses while the native arab of Palestine all live under much better conditions. It is most interesting meeting the English people in the hotels and on the boats. Nearly all of them seem to have travelled all over the East and Africa and I believe on both boats we were the only people who had never been out of Europe. Its always interesting to hear them talk about the places we are going to. I am now interested in the history of Africa and have read a life of Cecil Rhodes a wonderful story. You know Nairobi was only started about 35 years ago. There was nothing here before the railway came and the place grew simply because the Railway Engineers made it a centre for the work of construction. Now there are beautiful wide avenues. There are 3 really big hotels.
Now I must write to the Works. I know you are having a happy holiday. We'll have a wonderful time at the Easter Hols won't we. I'm looking forward to getting home already!
Lots of Love Daddy.
Lutjes Langham Hotel
Now a word with you, I've been writing long screeds of instructions to the works. I'm working very hard here. I leave the hotel at 8.30 and do not get back till 6.30 and even then we have to entertain or be entertained by all sorts of people - mostly customers so I really do not have much time for writing.
You would hate this place. Its like being in the middle of Birmingham, and there are suburbs for miles and miles all round so that we can't walk anywhere and not having a car we can't go out. Even if we had one tho' there's no nice country or interesting places to see. The place is very English too except that there are quite a lot of Black people about the streets dressed up in European clothes.
I forgot to tell you about the Tortoise at Mombassa in the hotel garden. Its 400 years old! In the old days, the ships used to carry them for food and it is thought that Vasco da Gama when he discovered the East coast left this one on the shore. Its about 5 feet long and 21 ft wide. It wanders about the place and often stays away for weeks. The hotel people find it tho' and follow and feed it and it comes back always to a tin shed they have built for it. A few years ago it was run over by a motor car which dented the shell but otherwise did not hurt it!
I expect Mummy told you haw we went down a gold mine 6000 ft deep? It was a terrible affair! This week we are going to Pretoria - the capital for 2 days Its 50 miles away. This afternoon we are going to the Country Club with some people. It’s a beautiful place with a swimming bath, golf club, lots of tennis and squash courts and so on. We've already been to lunch there.
We've been to service in the Cathedral this morning. It was very nice. The building is almost new, built in 1925-6. Its very interesting to see it. Also we saw the new cathedral at Nairobi too. Unfortunately I do not like the architecture of either of them. The one here is just like a non-conformist chapel although the service is high.
(on last page from EAP:
Work well darlings You both did well last term. I'm longing to see you both. I've sent several postcards to Betty and Brenda and Diana C and Pamela Winter. Is that all right?
I've just written a long letter to Nannie telling her about getting the house ready for us.
If you break up many days before we return you must go straight home to Oaken. We will arrange about you coming down to meet us at 6'oclcok in the morning we arrive.
Hotel Edward, Durban, Natal
(Postmarked Durban, 14 Feb 34)
You see we have achieved another stage of our journey! We have now reached the coast and I think we shall not use the trains again unless we have to travel by train from Port Elizabeth (to Cape Town) to stay a few days at a beautiful place called the Wilderness near Mossel Bay. We may have a few days there. This week I've spent 2 nights and one day in the train doing only 900 miles! The trains are terribly slow. You see when the railways were laid down they could not afford to do them properly and instead of tunnelling as in England thro' a hill, they went round tortuous curves. Then the gauge is only 3ft 6" against our 4ft 8 1/2" and also they go up so high 6000ft often - so altogether it is not surprising that the speed is so slow. I simply can't write well on this paper. My hands are sticky too. I left Mummy at Johannesburg to stay 2 nights with the Boustreds while I went to Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State. I joined her train at Ladysmith at 1 am. Ladysmith was besieged during the Boer war. There are lots of familiar Boer War names in the Free State and the Transvaal - these were the places our people wanted to capture. At Pretoria which is the administrative capital of the Transvaal we saw Kruger's house. He was president of the Transvaal before the Boer War. Bloemfontein was the was the Capital of the Orange Free State. Its quite a nice place. 75% of the people are Dutch - the old Boers.
I've already had 2 bathes in the sea here! It's very hot - as hot as the hottest summer day at home and the sea is warm. The hotel is on the point and we go down in our bathing costumes with thousands of other people!
Has Mummy told you that the Waddells from Codsall were staying at the hotel in Johannesburg! They were very friendly!! Tomorrow I start work again. We have an office here in the town. Mr Powell an agent from Johannesburg has come with us and is staying here. I hope you are all right. The mail comes in tomorrow. Lots of Love Daddy.
Saturday Dec 23rd 1933
(reverse of cutting for photo of Christmas Air Mail and Armstrong Whitworth AW15 Atlanta aircraft G-ABTH)
Central Africa Area
To be Created
To Deal with Political and
On January 1 there will be established in Nairobi the
headquarters of what is to be known as Imperial Airways Central African Area.
The area will comprise the whole of the East African territories including Zanzibar, and all the Belgian Congo with the exception of the Katanga Province.
The new headquarters office will be in charge of Mr. J. W. Sefton Brancker, only son of the late Major General Sir Sefton Brancker, K.C.B., Director of Civil Aviation in Britain who met his death in the R101 disaster. Mr. Brancker who has served on Imperial Airways at Cairo and who was for some months at Kisumu, was a member of the recent seaplane survey flight to ........
STEADY DEVELOPMENT IN
The amount of gold produced from Kakamega during the month of November was 818.61 ounces which is an increase over the previous month's figures of 256.39 ounces. Of this amount 545.61 ounces was reef gold, while, the remainder was alluvial. The gold produced else where, however, fell by 196.22 ounces under the figures for October, as only 329.43 ounces, all reef, was obtained, in November, where as the previous month accounted for 526 ounces. Nevertheless, there was a general increase in production of gold in the Colony, bringing the total up to 1,148.19 ounces.
The record for production was created in August when 1,580 ounces were obtained, Kakamega, alone accounting for well over 1,000 ounces. The next best month was June with 1,449 ounces, July coming third with 1,223 ounces and November fourth with 1,148.19 ounces.
These figures cannot be taken in any way as indicative of the extent and progression of the various goldfields of the Colony, all of......
This journey made by AJP in January 1948 was by air to South Africa and then travelling round there, seeing customers and so on. The letters are rather poignant. Ethel was quite ill by this time and (in hindsight) had only 3 years to live. AJ was evidently very fond of her and missed her a lot. From the first letter, AJ seems to have left home in bad temper!
I've just put in a call to you - not that I have anything special to say except that I love you. I haven't forgotten anything! So far as I know now.
I've left my heavy bag at the airways terminal about 500 yards along Buckingham Palace Rd. I've had a very poor dinner and now I've come to bed.
D.V. I'll now go away again without you. I can't bear it and I'm wishing very much indeed that I never said I would go.
I need you more now than at any time in my life. I love you and I adore you and everything about you. Everybody does tho' that we know. You are so incredibly brave in your disabilities - never a grouse? Hardly about them.
I was thinking coming up in the train that the Garden and the house are nothing to me without you. They only form a background for us both.
I wish when the time comes we could die together. We are fortunate in the children - all of them. We have a lot to be thankful for. I am so sick with myself and my temper. You will see a great change in that tho' in the future!
Don't worry about Gladys or May. You can do no more. They must not spoil you life. You must not go down to May's even if she is dying. I want you to hibernate till I come back. You do far too much. Save yourself for me - now I want to go to bed. Good night and God bless you.
Kisumu Hotel (1946) Limited,
Kisimu, Kenya Colony
Darling, 7.30 GMT
Just had breakfast, bath and shave here. Just like Nairobi except smaller excellent hotel. Had paw paw & bacon & eggs for breakfast. I wish you were here. The Jacaranda (blue) Flamboyant (red) Plumbago and Christ Thorn hedge (red) are out.
Have not had much sleep tho' but I'm not tired.
I divested myself of my 2 vests on the plane before landing.
Lots of love.
10pm 8pm with you
6 Jan 48.
You see I've arrived. The plane touched down at 6.30 after an excellent trip of 35 hours. I've sent you a cable and collected yours from the Langham. I was glad to get it. So like mince from the Grosvenor in London. I'm writing a diary and so I shall be not tell you all the details. I'll read the book to you on the 6th Feb I have sent you notes from Khartoum and Kisumu. You would have been interested in both hotels so like the club at Mombasa, in fact Kisumu is like Mombasa too. Obviously growing tho' 90% of the shops are Indian. I'm not very tired, but I feel a little drunk rather like we felt after 10 days on board ship.
Frank Boustred and Graham were at the Airport to meet me, wasn't that nice. His friend Douglas the doctor was an the plane tho' I did not know. I saw a attend to a woman near me who was ill during most of the journey. I felt nothing tho'. Nor could we see much of the country. It looks like one of those models you see at railway stations. I slept several hours day and night and was able to go into the cockpit and talk to the crew. There were 5 officers and 2 stewards and a hostess.
I've just walked round to the Langham. Jo'burg is very bright with lights - is clean and very modern Lots of new American cars about. This hotel is good, a very nice room. I had ?? ??? stuck in an ice - 13/6! I'm afraid everything will be very expensive. Its hot but all men are wearing just the same as we did in summer.
There were 35 passengers in the plane. I had the back gangway rear seat quite good but cramped. The food was quite good too tho' they cooked nothing on board.
I must go to bed now. Tomorrow I shall arrange my times. I think a week or 10 days here and 3 or 4 days each at Durban and Cape Town and finish up here.
I'm looking forward to coming home to you. I start back 4 weeks tomorrow.
I hope you are all right. Do look after yourself. We all depend on you almost for our entire happiness. I do entirely.
I love you so. Arthur.
Wed 6.30 pm 6/1/48 (should be 7/1!)
Darling, Just a word with you. I shan't post it today. I'll try to keep up a sort of diary tho' most of the information will have to wait.
Its been a cloudless day temp about like a perfect English summer day 80° but the sun is very fierce at noon. Nobody wears coats. I wear none or very few.
I went out with the Boustreds to the country club for lunch. It’s about 3 miles out. Jean came to meet me at the hotel - Dawson's by the way. She looked very well and smart and I think was pleased to see me tho' most disappointed that you had not come. Then we dropped Jean at their house. Very nice indeed tho' not large. Antique English furniture and so on. A small garden but an amount of flowers and a lawn cut - tho' not like ours. It’s a bungalow or semi perhaps tho' I did not see any upstairs windows. Then Frank brought me back to Powell's office. I've been this afternoon to see a customer. W.R. Boustred and that's all. My head swims. I think it’s the altitude and not the journey. Now I'm going to make a few notes and then have dinner. Powell is bringing his wife in for tea at 9 pm!
Thursday the 8th.
Darling. I wonder how you are? I think I shall telephone at the weekend. I've just asked the exchange here to see if I can speak to you at 7pm GMT on Monday. It will be a personal call - £1 per minute!
I've had quite an interesting day. Seen 2 of our competitors who are very small. Had lunch with Howard Henwood and one of their directors at the Rand Club. I have bought myself 3 suits of underclothes and 5 pairs of socks!
I've also arranged the rest of my trip. I go to Cape Town on the 20th then to Durban on the 24th and back to Jo'burg on the 28th. I come home on the 4th.
I could not sleep last night until 4 am. The place is noisy and I think the altitude affected me. I shall take a pill tonight! I entertained Powell and his wife (better than I thought) and young Johnson a potter from Hanley to tea at 9 p.m. Tell Mrs Manby that Lionel Melville died 9 years ago but his wife has asked me to dinner on the 14th. The weather has again been perfect.
Temp 85° No cloud. At night one does need a blanket in the early hours. Now I'm going down to dinner alone. After I shall do a bit of writing. I bought 6 good nectarines at 2d each! For my tea but most things are dearer than in England. Building is 3 times the price at least I'm told.
I can't find way about the place. We could not you remember in 1934 all the streets look the same.
Now I must go darling I love you so much. Tel R & B I can't write them fully and give them my love.
6pm Friday 9.1.48
I wonder how you are. I had a business cable from Cyril this morning but no word of you. No letter either from you or anybody. I'm not particularly lonely there's been no time and I just feel I'm here for so short a time. There's no note in the papers of the English weather and so I hope its not too bad - its too hot to be in a town here. You would not like it. The temps today has been 85°.
I rang up Kenneth Roy last night and went with him to the country club to lunch and I'm going to dine with him on Sunday. I've managed to buy socks and underclothes and 1 shirt. Shirts are particularly impossible.
I had a much better night. In fact 9 hours sleep! My head is still swimming because of the altitude I suppose.
I saw 3 customers and the H.M. Trade Commissioner today and so I'm going to dine read and go to bed. You would not like to be here in this hotel. The town is very interesting and hot. I should never want you to stay in Jo'burg.
Von Brandis and President Streets,
1020 pm, Saturday 10/1/48
I'm just going to bed but I want to report to you my doings of the day. Wouldn't it be too dreadful if we had not each other to talk things over with. No-one can take your place nor mine I believe. 33 years I suppose makes for a community of interest. I was glad to get your letter of last Monday the 6th perhaps you did not post it till the 7th for it seems a from Monday to Saturday. When you go out at night you must always have a taxi. You must not walk out further than the Smiths ???. I wonder what Bunch has decided to do.
I've had an interesting day but tiring. Do you remember Cyril showing me a cutting in the Telegraph of last Saturday? He got in touch with the people who cabled to their man here - a Col Gordon. He took me to his house to lunch (he's a ??) and he and his wife and a boy of 9 took me to Pretoria and then back to their house to dinner. She is a friend of Joan Thompson (Locas? Wife) they have only been out 4 months. I think he is a manufacturers agent.
Good night darling.
Sunday I'm going off to Service at the Cathedral with your Stephen Johnson.
Did I tell you that Lionel Melville who Mrs Manby asked me to see has been dead 9 years? Tell her his widow has asked me to dinner on Wed. but I may not be able to go there seems so much to do.
There are no picture post cards of the place by the way so I can't send any. Perhaps I'll write letter to Hilda but I can't do much more writing - I might find some at Durban or the Cape.
Von Brandis and President Streets,
I have just read the Joburg Sunday Times. There are 28 pages and the it?? muc heavier than ours. I never want big papers again I think. They all include a children's supplement as well coloured.
Darling. Its 5 o'clock. I've just come in after a very hot day but as the air mail goes in a few minutes I can't say much. I'm going to speak to you at 9 i.e. 7 your time. I'm sorry about this morning but they thought I said 9 a.m. and I had gone out. Hope they didn't wake you! It will be lovely £1 a minute. Do not bother to pay any bills unless necessary. I pair up everything before I left I think.
I had a big day yesterday. Thomas and his parents (Powell's partner) and Johnson had lunch with me then took me for a ride. Then at 5.45 Roy (agent) came for me - took me to his golf club his flat to collect his wife and then to a party at the country club. Henwood and Boustred has fixed things too. I'm being too busy its so hot. I must stop.
Von Brandis and President Streets,
Tuesday evening 13/1/48.
Dearest, I've been here just a week. It seems an age and only ¼ of the time gone. I'm waiting again for the telephone call. The ??? people have made two mistakes. I shall be interested to see if you have already spoken twice
I'm very very sorry to hear about May. Its tragic and I think you will feel that a link with the past has gone. I should think Charles must feel almost a murderer(?) You could not have done more for her. If she had lived near we might have helped more. I'm so sorry for you??? and the boys. Tell them if they come to see me I'll help them if I can.
I had your letter written on Thursday the day of the party yesterday, It was very nice. Do not write to tire yourself.
I've got nothing to do this evening. Tomorrow I'm going to the Henwoods to dinner and the Boustreds on Thursday. I always have a luncheon engagement. Today I've been to Pretoria to see the P.W.D. Clelands successors. I had lunch at the Pretoria club. That was very nice. Then we called to see John Cleland and his wife. They live in a delightful bungalow a mile out. Very pretty gardens (I brought away a ??? hibiscus (Red 5" across) to send you but it would be nothing when it arrived. Their house is as full of good furniture and pictures as The Green. May not be so valuable. They were delighted to see me.
We hired a car. Its 35 miles from here you remember it’s a big straight road thro' country like the S. Downs tho' not as beautiful. We had a heavy thunderstorm on the way home and called at Powells bowling club. Lots of women players in white were having tea! I like young Stephen Johnson - he's 29 and very good company. We have meals together if convenient. Good night daring. I love you so much.
14/1/48 It was wonderful to speak to you! I can't write any more now as I am dining with Howard Henwood.
Von Brandis and President Streets,
15/1/48 11.15 pm.
I've just come in from having dinner with the Boustreds. I haven't been there before except to leave Jean on my second day here. They had a cocktail party mainly of young people but 2 or 3 grown-ups of importance were there. One was a Mr.? I've forgotten his name but he is head of their civil service and his Boer wife. He is going to show me their House of Commons at Cape Town and you remember we went their together. Frank is really very influential and they are most kind. I'm to stay the 28th I leave on the Feb 4th. Their house (bungalow) is quite big. The rooms are bigger than ours and its very well furnished. Graham leaves on the 14th for England. Richards is not much to look at. Gwen is not too big an is quite good cooking but quiet and shy. I don't think she will come to England.
Last night I was late coming back from the Howard Henwoods. They threw a Dinner party all pucka for me. A solicitor friend and his wife and a woman journalist. It’s a very nice house 2 story - well furnished and very large comfortable drawing room. We played vingte un. I had to have a taxi. They have 2 children whom I did not see - a boy and a girl. Mrs B.H. Coline has also a girl in England of 23 by a former marriage. She's (Mrs H) very nice not a bit modern - good looking. It seems to be a very nice local suburban garden but it rained so I could not walk round. Its now Friday morning the 16. Its one day less than 3 weeks till I shall be home. It seems an age. I am kept busy and so am not bored but I am longing to come back to you. I can't bear the thought of another 3 weeks. I must go across to Powell's again now.
I went with Cecil Banwell - like his sister Madeleine Reade only 71 to see their works yesterday. It is an ???? show employing 1000 people. Banwells do not now control it. But I've just written C. a full report so I'll tell you about it when I get home.
Its 4.30. I'm in my room. It’s a nice one. I come in work or put my feet up and write whenever I've got a few minutes to spare. Fortunately its close to Powell's office.
I've not had a very busy day. I saw some v. nice ??? this am and a customer. Had 2 buyers in the hotel to lunch. Then Frank Boustred took me to see DR Van Byl. The industrial magnate of S.A. Had a long talk with him in a beautiful office. He's a most unassuming chap - very helpful.
Tonight Johnson is taking Mr and Mrs Powell and me to the pictures - my first "show". In fact I've never even bought a chocolate!
Another day gone. 3 weeks minus 2 days now. I hope you are all right. Tell Bunch how proud I am of Peter. I would write to him but I don't know his address. I'll send her a note tho'.
Its pouring with rain and thundering now and much cooler. We had a slight earthquake this morning!
I love you so much.
Von Brandis and President Streets,
Saturday 17/1/48 9.30 pm.
I had your letter of the 12th today. A very long and interesting one but please don't write too much. I am not stinting myself at all. The food is excellent here and the bedroom is large airy and comfortable cosy chairs and a bathroom.
Did I tell you I went to the pro-cathedral last Sunday. I'm going again tomorrow with Stephen Johnson. He's such a nice boy and good company.
The barograph has a fixed key under the lid like an alarm clock. To remove the drum you lift the pen away from the drum by a lever.
As regards Torquay the 14 to 21 and a few days will suit me. Will you tell them? There's a through train I believe from Wolverhampton.
I hope Price will not leave until the planting is done and he's put the remaining rocks in the pit. That's answered your letter. You are I suppose at the Fellows now this weekend.
I'm going to send a cable to tell you to return by road even if you hire a car. Its impossible in the winter especially by train.
I doing nothing this evening Saturday. The ??? did ask me to go to dinner but I refused. I had them and Johnson to lunch in return today and they took me to see James Mason in Upturned Glass which was excellent and in a most elaborate cinema.
Johnson gave a party last night to the Powells here and took us to see an awful American film called Boomerang. Tomorrow is a quiet day too. Good night darling. I love you so much.
Von Brandis and President Streets,
8 pm Monday 19th.
I've just had dinner ??? before. I'm leaving one bag here. You see I'm off on the round trip tomorrow. Cape ?? and then on the 24th to Durban c/o N. Henwood and on 28th back here to Boustreds.
Its only 31 hours to the Cape by air as opposed to 26 hours by train. Your very nice letter of last Thursday arrived this evening. So you are now at Malvern. I hope you have had my cable telling you to hire a car home if Geoffrey Fellows does not take you. You promised me not to go by train. It’s a frightful journey in the winter.
As regards meeting me in London. It would be simply lovely. I am due at Heathrow London Airport at Noon on the 5th so we could catch the 2.10 quite easily. It would be very nice of you could come to the airport but you should ask B.O.A.C. They will tell you how the plane is running. It may be early or late! My time has only not quite 1 gone. I've only been here 13 days. There are 17 more to go before we meet. I know your programme. Don't do too much. I don't want you to get a cold.
I've been to a place called Van den Bigl Park this afternoon. I'll tell you about it. It’s a new town being nearly 50 miles from here 100 sq miles. Frank Boustred is calling my spare bag and overcoat. I leave at 7 in the morning. I love you so much.
Its 8.30 pm (6.30 with you) I'm in my pyjamas because of the heat. Its been pretty awful today some say 104° in the shade but ???? 98°
It’s a poor hotel but it its central and only for 4 nights. The hotels are all full all the time. It was a good journey down and a full plane. Skymaster ???? 40 passengers. We left at 8.15 and arrived at 11.50 - 1000 miles - 26 hours by train! There was no incident. The country is frightful. Bare, barren mountains - right up to Cape Town. They are very short of water.
Richardson, the agent, met me in his car at the airport. I've worked this afternoon and I'm not tired but my room is like a furnace. I'm beginning to think the English climate is best after all!
You are still at the Fellows perhaps. I hope you are looking after yourself you are so very precious. My life would not be worth living without you and that is sober fact and not a passing lonely expression. I'm just longing to be sitting on one side of the fireplace and you on the other!
Cape Town is much more beautiful than Jo'burg which is ugly. Adderley St do you remember runs up from the Harbour to the Parliament house - a very old fashioned building.
I've written to Bee and Gladys and Hilda. There are no ppc's you see. Richardson is a better chap than Powell and is a very good agent. He did not ask me to his house tho'. I must entertain them here I think. Now I'm going to read my Alexander Book lying on the bed. All my love Darling.
I'm sitting in my little bedroom nearly cooked?. Its 5.30 pm and still very hot tho' the paper says 26° below their peak which I think was yesterday! I have been longing for a little English winter! I've been calling on customers one of them took me - Richardson to the city club for lunch. A delightful place seems to be higher class than the Rand club at Joburg. They are all quite nice people and seem pleased to see me. I went to see Plecanda? At his office. He's the principal civil servant. I met him at the Boustreds and he's given me a ticket to the house of commons tomorrow.
11 pm. I've just come having ???? the Richardsons and the Waterhouses (Uncle Tom's Friends) at the Mount Nelson Hotel. You would love to stay there real old English of the best type very like the Treguna? Castle. Nearly all in dinner jackets. It belongs to the Union Castle coy. Next to us were the Duke and Duchess of Rutland. Very young about 25 and she 22 and very pretty. They were with 2 elder people, perhaps her parents. The place was full of English customers! No South African or foreigners. I must go to bed. All my love.
1030 pm 22/1/48
Dearest I'm a bit tired. I've been to the Richardsons this evening. Very nice people in quite a small house but he took me to a customer's house before one few? Sam Norman. It cost £33000 to buy 12 months ago. Quite beautiful and all about overlooking the Indian Ocean. Constantia is ????? a lovely situation. We passed Arthur's Seat where we stayed 14 years ago. I went into the House of Assembly in the Senate this afternoon. Smuts and ???? were there but did not speak. I'll tell you all about it a fortnight tonight. Cape Town and district are quite beautiful.
Now I'm going to bed. It will be one blanket I think.
3, Eastbourne Rd,
I've just come up to bed to write to you and to escape. I've been with Bunny Henwood most of the day and its somewhat exhausting being entertained. The weather is so bad too. Its been raining for 48 hours and still is and it is quite cold. I arrived at 2 pm yesterday. I sent Bunch a cable last night partly to let you know I was here. It was a good trip. The plane came down at Port Elizabeth and East London for a 1/4 hour each. 1000 miles in 51 hours. By train or sea the journey takes days. This is a large villa furnished à la Victoria. They are very kind people and seem to have a house full of relatives all the time. However I shall have to tell you all about them on Thursday week. I've only 10 more nights in Africa of course. I'm longing to get home to you. It’s a bit difficult staying with customers' friends as I have to see their competitors. However it can't be helped. Thomas (Powell's partner) is coming down tomorrow and will take me round. You are going to Minnie's tomorrow I suppose and Rosemary will be back tomorrow. Now I'm going to bed. Good night my dearest.
9 am in Powell's Office
You see I am back here again. I arrived at 5.30 at the airport and Frank B was there to meet me and took me straight home. We just talked until 10.45 and then I went to bed. I was not tired. Its only 1¾ from Durban by air except that I still feel somewhat nervous of flying it’s a very ?? way of travelling. I found a letter at the Boustreds from Rosemary and one from David J? Its very nice of them to write. It’s a beautiful morning much cooler than Durban which I found hot and sticky. I expect it will be hot here soon though. I shall not put on my pale beach suit tho'. The people here and at D and CT seem the wear the same clothes as we do on a normal summer's day at home.
There are only 5 more days now left! I'm longing to get back of course. I'm getting too old for a simple business trip. I thin in future we must mix business and pleasure! This is the last letter I shall write. The Skymaster goes you see on Monday, Wed and Sats and this will catch Friday's plane. Even so you may be in London meeting me. It will be wonderful and I hope you will see the plane touch down. So I shall leave any more news, but there are 40 other people in this office, tho' it is a large one I cannot write very much.
I've had a cable from C. agreeing with restrictions to my asking Frank to be Chairman of our SA Coy so I shall mention it to Frank tonight.
He's very influential here. Knows everybody from Smuts down. We are going to their country cottage on the Vaal river for Saturday night with some USA friends and Richard and Gwen.
Lot so love darling. I love you so.