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      From Tanganyika with Love


      With thanks to Mike Rushby.

      Mchewe Estate. 11th July 1931.

      Dearest Family,

      You say that you would like to know more about our neighbours. Well there is
      not much to tell. Kath Wood is very good about coming over to see me. I admire her
      very much because she is so capable as well as being attractive. She speaks very
      fluent Ki-Swahili and I envy her the way she can carry on a long conversation with the
      natives. I am very slow in learning the language possibly because Lamek and the
      houseboy both speak basic English.

      I have very little to do with the Africans apart from the house servants, but I do
      run a sort of clinic for the wives and children of our employees. The children suffer chiefly
      from sore eyes and worms, and the older ones often have bad ulcers on their legs. All
      farmers keep a stock of drugs and bandages.

      George also does a bit of surgery and last month sewed up the sole of the foot
      of a boy who had trodden on the blade of a panga, a sort of sword the Africans use for
      hacking down bush. He made an excellent job of it. George tells me that the Africans
      have wonderful powers of recuperation. Once in his bachelor days, one of his men was
      disembowelled by an elephant. George washed his “guts” in a weak solution of
      pot.permang, put them back in the cavity and sewed up the torn flesh and he

      But to get back to the neighbours. We see less of Hicky Wood than of Kath.
      Hicky can be charming but is often moody as I believe Irishmen often are.
      Major Jones is now at home on his shamba, which he leaves from time to time
      for temporary jobs on the district roads. He walks across fairly regularly and we are
      always glad to see him for he is a great bearer of news. In this part of Africa there is no
      knocking or ringing of doorbells. Front doors are always left open and visitors always
      welcome. When a visitor approaches a house he shouts “Hodi”, and the owner of the
      house yells “Karibu”, which I believe means “Come near” or approach, and tea is
      produced in a matter of minutes no matter what hour of the day it is.
      The road that passes all our farms is the only road to the Gold Diggings and
      diggers often drop in on the Woods and Major Jones and bring news of the Goldfields.
      This news is sometimes about gold but quite often about whose wife is living with
      whom. This is a great country for gossip.

      Major Jones now has his brother Llewyllen living with him. I drove across with
      George to be introduced to him. Llewyllen’s health is poor and he looks much older than
      his years and very like the portrait of Trader Horn. He has the same emaciated features,
      burning eyes and long beard. He is proud of his Welsh tenor voice and often bursts into

      Both brothers are excellent conversationalists and George enjoys walking over
      sometimes on a Sunday for a bit of masculine company. The other day when George
      walked across to visit the Joneses, he found both brothers in the shamba and Llew in a
      great rage. They had been stooping to inspect a water furrow when Llew backed into a
      hornets nest. One furious hornet stung him on the seat and another on the back of his
      neck. Llew leapt forward and somehow his false teeth shot out into the furrow and were
      carried along by the water. When George arrived Llew had retrieved his teeth but
      George swears that, in the commotion, the heavy leather leggings, which Llew always
      wears, had swivelled around on his thin legs and were calves to the front.
      George has heard that Major Jones is to sell pert of his land to his Swedish brother-in-law, Max Coster, so we will soon have another couple in the neighbourhood.

      I’ve had a bit of a pantomime here on the farm. On the day we went to Tukuyu,
      all our washing was stolen from the clothes line and also our new charcoal iron. George
      reported the matter to the police and they sent out a plain clothes policeman. He wears
      the long white Arab gown called a Kanzu much in vogue here amongst the African elite
      but, alas for secrecy, huge black police boots protrude from beneath the Kanzu and, to
      add to this revealing clue, the askari springs to attention and salutes each time I pass by.
      Not much hope of finding out the identity of the thief I fear.

      George’s furrow was entirely successful and we now have water running behind
      the kitchen. Our drinking water we get from a lovely little spring on the farm. We boil and
      filter it for safety’s sake. I don’t think that is necessary. The furrow water is used for
      washing pots and pans and for bath water.

      Lots of love,

      Mchewe Estate. 8th. August 1931

      Dearest Family,

      I think it is about time I told you that we are going to have a baby. We are both
      thrilled about it. I have not seen a Doctor but feel very well and you are not to worry. I
      looked it up in my handbook for wives and reckon that the baby is due about February
      8th. next year.

      The announcement came from George, not me! I had been feeling queasy for
      days and was waiting for the right moment to tell George. You know. Soft lights and
      music etc. However when I was listlessly poking my food around one lunch time
      George enquired calmly, “When are you going to tell me about the baby?” Not at all
      according to the book! The problem is where to have the baby. February is a very wet
      month and the nearest Doctor is over 50 miles away at Tukuyu. I cannot go to stay at
      Tukuyu because there is no European accommodation at the hospital, no hotel and no
      friend with whom I could stay.

      George thinks I should go South to you but Capetown is so very far away and I
      love my little home here. Also George says he could not come all the way down with
      me as he simply must stay here and get the farm on its feet. He would drive me as far
      as the railway in Northern Rhodesia. It is a difficult decision to take. Write and tell me what
      you think.

      The days tick by quietly here. The servants are very willing but have to be
      supervised and even then a crisis can occur. Last Saturday I was feeling squeamish and
      decided not to have lunch. I lay reading on the couch whilst George sat down to a
      solitary curry lunch. Suddenly he gave an exclamation and pushed back his chair. I
      jumped up to see what was wrong and there, on his plate, gleaming in the curry gravy
      were small bits of broken glass. I hurried to the kitchen to confront Lamek with the plate.
      He explained that he had dropped the new and expensive bottle of curry powder on
      the brick floor of the kitchen. He did not tell me as he thought I would make a “shauri” so
      he simply scooped up the curry powder, removed the larger pieces of glass and used
      part of the powder for seasoning the lunch.

      The weather is getting warmer now. It was very cold in June and July and we had
      fires in the daytime as well as at night. Now that much of the land has been cleared we
      are able to go for pleasant walks in the weekends. My favourite spot is a waterfall on the
      Mchewe River just on the boundary of our land. There is a delightful little pool below the
      waterfall and one day George intends to stock it with trout.

      Now that there are more Europeans around to buy meat the natives find it worth
      their while to kill an occasional beast. Every now and again a native arrives with a large
      bowl of freshly killed beef for sale. One has no way of knowing whether the animal was
      healthy and the meat is often still warm and very bloody. I hated handling it at first but am
      becoming accustomed to it now and have even started a brine tub. There is no other
      way of keeping meat here and it can only be kept in its raw state for a few hours before
      going bad. One of the delicacies is the hump which all African cattle have. When corned
      it is like the best brisket.

      See what a housewife I am becoming.
      With much love,

      Mchewe Estate. Sept.6th. 1931

      Dearest Family,

      I have grown to love the life here and am sad to think I shall be leaving
      Tanganyika soon for several months. Yes I am coming down to have the baby in the
      bosom of the family. George thinks it best and so does the doctor. I didn’t mention it
      before but I have never recovered fully from the effects of that bad bout of malaria and
      so I have been persuaded to leave George and our home and go to the Cape, in the
      hope that I shall come back here as fit as when I first arrived in the country plus a really
      healthy and bouncing baby. I am torn two ways, I long to see you all – but how I would
      love to stay on here.

      George will drive me down to Northern Rhodesia in early October to catch a
      South bound train. I’ll telegraph the date of departure when I know it myself. The road is
      very, very bad and the car has been giving a good deal of trouble so, though the baby
      is not due until early February, George thinks it best to get the journey over soon as
      possible, for the rains break in November and the the roads will then be impassable. It
      may take us five or six days to reach Broken Hill as we will take it slowly. I am looking
      forward to the drive through new country and to camping out at night.
      Our days pass quietly by. George is out on the shamba most of the day. He
      goes out before breakfast on weekdays and spends most of the day working with the
      men – not only supervising but actually working with his hands and beating the labourers
      at their own jobs. He comes to the house for meals and tea breaks. I potter around the
      house and garden, sew, mend and read. Lamek continues to be a treasure. he turns out
      some surprising dishes. One of his specialities is stuffed chicken. He carefully skins the
      chicken removing all bones. He then minces all the chicken meat and adds minced onion
      and potatoes. He then stuffs the chicken skin with the minced meat and carefully sews it
      together again. The resulting dish is very filling because the boned chicken is twice the
      size of a normal one. It lies on its back as round as a football with bloated legs in the air.
      Rather repulsive to look at but Lamek is most proud of his accomplishment.
      The other day he produced another of his masterpieces – a cooked tortoise. It
      was served on a dish covered with parsley and crouched there sans shell but, only too
      obviously, a tortoise. I took one look and fled with heaving diaphragm, but George said
      it tasted quite good. He tells me that he has had queerer dishes produced by former
      cooks. He says that once in his hunting days his cook served up a skinned baby
      monkey with its hands folded on its breast. He says it would take a cannibal to eat that

      And now for something sad. Poor old Llew died quite suddenly and it was a sad
      shock to this tiny community. We went across to the funeral and it was a very simple and
      dignified affair. Llew was buried on Joni’s farm in a grave dug by the farm boys. The
      body was wrapped in a blanket and bound to some boards and lowered into the
      ground. There was no service. The men just said “Good-bye Llew.” and “Sleep well
      Llew”, and things like that. Then Joni and his brother-in-law Max, and George shovelled
      soil over the body after which the grave was filled in by Joni’s shamba boys. It was a
      lovely bright afternoon and I thought how simple and sensible a funeral it was.
      I hope you will be glad to have me home. I bet Dad will be holding thumbs that
      the baby will be a girl.

      Very much love,

      “There are no letters to my family during the period of Sept. 1931 to June 1932
      because during these months I was living with my parents and sister in a suburb of
      Cape Town. I had hoped to return to Tanganyika by air with my baby soon after her
      birth in Feb.1932 but the doctor would not permit this.

      A month before my baby was born, a company called Imperial Airways, had
      started the first passenger service between South Africa and England. One of the night
      stops was at Mbeya near my husband’s coffee farm, and it was my intention to take the
      train to Broken Hill in Northern Rhodesia and to fly from there to Mbeya with my month
      old baby. In those days however, commercial flying was still a novelty and the doctor
      was not sure that flying at a high altitude might not have an adverse effect upon a young

      He strongly advised me to wait until the baby was four months old and I did this
      though the long wait was very trying to my husband alone on our farm in Tanganyika,
      and to me, cherished though I was in my old home.

      My story, covering those nine long months is soon told. My husband drove me
      down from Mbeya to Broken Hill in NorthernRhodesia. The journey was tedious as the
      weather was very hot and dry and the road sandy and rutted, very different from the
      Great North road as it is today. The wooden wheel spokes of the car became so dry
      that they rattled and George had to bind wet rags around them. We had several
      punctures and with one thing and another I was lucky to catch the train.
      My parents were at Cape Town station to welcome me and I stayed
      comfortably with them, living very quietly, until my baby was born. She arrived exactly
      on the appointed day, Feb.8th.

      I wrote to my husband “Our Charmian Ann is a darling baby. She is very fair and
      rather pale and has the most exquisite hands, with long tapering fingers. Daddy
      absolutely dotes on her and so would you, if you were here. I can’t bear to think that you
      are so terribly far away. Although Ann was born exactly on the day, I was taken quite by
      surprise. It was awfully hot on the night before, and before going to bed I had a fancy for
      some water melon. The result was that when I woke in the early morning with labour
      pains and vomiting I thought it was just an attack of indigestion due to eating too much
      melon. The result was that I did not wake Marjorie until the pains were pretty frequent.
      She called our next door neighbour who, in his pyjamas, drove me to the nursing home
      at breakneck speed. The Matron was very peeved that I had left things so late but all
      went well and by nine o’clock, Mother, positively twittering with delight, was allowed to
      see me and her first granddaughter . She told me that poor Dad was in such a state of
      nerves that he was sick amongst the grapevines. He says that he could not bear to go
      through such an anxious time again, — so we will have to have our next eleven in

      The next four months passed rapidly as my time was taken up by the demands
      of my new baby. Dr. Trudy King’s method of rearing babies was then the vogue and I
      stuck fanatically to all the rules he laid down, to the intense exasperation of my parents
      who longed to cuddle the child.

      As the time of departure drew near my parents became more and more reluctant
      to allow me to face the journey alone with their adored grandchild, so my brother,
      Graham, very generously offered to escort us on the train to Broken Hill where he could
      put us on the plane for Mbeya.

      Eleanor Rushby


      Mchewe Estate. June 15th 1932

      Dearest Family,

      You’ll be glad to know that we arrived quite safe and sound and very, very
      happy to be home.The train Journey was uneventful. Ann slept nearly all the way.
      Graham was very kind and saw to everything. He even sat with the baby whilst I went
      to meals in the dining car.

      We were met at Broken Hill by the Thoms who had arranged accommodation for
      us at the hotel for the night. They also drove us to the aerodrome in the morning where
      the Airways agent told us that Ann is the first baby to travel by air on this section of the
      Cape to England route. The plane trip was very bumpy indeed especially between
      Broken Hill and Mpika. Everyone was ill including poor little Ann who sicked up her milk
      all over the front of my new coat. I arrived at Mbeya looking a sorry caricature of Radiant
      Motherhood. I must have been pale green and the baby was snow white. Under the
      circumstances it was a good thing that George did not meet us. We were met instead
      by Ken Menzies, the owner of the Mbeya Hotel where we spent the night. Ken was
      most fatherly and kind and a good nights rest restored Ann and me to our usual robust

      Mbeya has greatly changed. The hotel is now finished and can accommodate
      fifty guests. It consists of a large main building housing a large bar and dining room and
      offices and a number of small cottage bedrooms. It even has electric light. There are
      several buildings out at the aerodrome and private houses going up in Mbeya.
      After breakfast Ken Menzies drove us out to the farm where we had a warm
      welcome from George, who looks well but rather thin. The house was spotless and the
      new cook, Abel, had made light scones for tea. George had prepared all sorts of lovely
      surprises. There is a new reed ceiling in the living room and a new dresser gay with
      willow pattern plates which he had ordered from England. There is also a writing table
      and a square table by the door for visitors hats. More personal is a lovely model ship
      which George assembled from one of those Hobbie’s kits. It puts the finishing touch to
      the rather old world air of our living room.

      In the bedroom there is a large double bed which George made himself. It has
      strips of old car tyres nailed to a frame which makes a fine springy mattress and on top
      of this is a thick mattress of kapok.In the kitchen there is a good wood stove which
      George salvaged from a Mission dump. It looks a bit battered but works very well. The
      new cook is excellent. The only blight is that he will wear rubber soled tennis shoes and
      they smell awful. I daren’t hurt his feelings by pointing this out though. Opposite the
      kitchen is a new laundry building containing a forty gallon hot water drum and a sink for
      washing up. Lovely!

      George has been working very hard. He now has forty acres of coffee seedlings
      planted out and has also found time to plant a rose garden and fruit trees. There are
      orange and peach trees, tree tomatoes, paw paws, guavas and berries. He absolutely
      adores Ann who has been very good and does not seem at all unsettled by the long

      It is absolutely heavenly to be back and I shall be happier than ever now that I
      have a baby to play with during the long hours when George is busy on the farm,
      Thank you for all your love and care during the many months I was with you. Ann
      sends a special bubble for granddad.

      Your very loving,

      Mchewe Estate Mbeya July 18th 1932

      Dearest Family,

      Ann at five months is enchanting. She is a very good baby, smiles readily and is
      gaining weight steadily. She doesn’t sleep much during the day but that does not
      matter, because, apart from washing her little things, I have nothing to do but attend to
      her. She sleeps very well at night which is a blessing as George has to get up very
      early to start work on the shamba and needs a good nights rest.
      My nights are not so good, because we are having a plague of rats which frisk
      around in the bedroom at night. Great big ones that come up out of the long grass in the
      gorge beside the house and make cosy homes on our reed ceiling and in the thatch of
      the roof.

      We always have a night light burning so that, if necessary, I can attend to Ann
      with a minimum of fuss, and the things I see in that dim light! There are gaps between
      the reeds and one night I heard, plop! and there, before my horrified gaze, lay a newly
      born hairless baby rat on the floor by the bed, plop, plop! and there lay two more.
      Quite dead, poor things – but what a careless mother.

      I have also seen rats scampering around on the tops of the mosquito nets and
      sometimes we have them on our bed. They have a lovely game. They swarm down
      the cord from which the mosquito net is suspended, leap onto the bed and onto the
      floor. We do not have our net down now the cold season is here and there are few

      Last week a rat crept under Ann’s net which hung to the floor and bit her little
      finger, so now I tuck the net in under the mattress though it makes it difficult for me to
      attend to her at night. We shall have to get a cat somewhere. Ann’s pram has not yet
      arrived so George carries her when we go walking – to her great content.
      The native women around here are most interested in Ann. They come to see
      her, bearing small gifts, and usually bring a child or two with them. They admire my child
      and I admire theirs and there is an exchange of gifts. They produce a couple of eggs or
      a few bananas or perhaps a skinny fowl and I hand over sugar, salt or soap as they
      value these commodities. The most lavish gift went to the wife of Thomas our headman,
      who produced twin daughters in the same week as I had Ann.

      Our neighbours have all been across to welcome me back and to admire the
      baby. These include Marion Coster who came out to join her husband whilst I was in
      South Africa. The two Hickson-Wood children came over on a fat old white donkey.
      They made a pretty picture sitting astride, one behind the other – Maureen with her arms
      around small Michael’s waist. A native toto led the donkey and the children’ s ayah
      walked beside it.

      It is quite cold here now but the sun is bright and the air dry. The whole
      countryside is beautifully green and we are a very happy little family.

      Lots and lots of love,

      Mchewe Estate August 11th 1932

      Dearest Family,

      George has been very unwell for the past week. He had a nasty gash on his
      knee which went septic. He had a swelling in the groin and a high temperature and could
      not sleep at night for the pain in his leg. Ann was very wakeful too during the same
      period, I think she is teething. I luckily have kept fit though rather harassed. Yesterday the
      leg looked so inflamed that George decided to open up the wound himself. he made
      quite a big cut in exactly the right place. You should have seen the blackish puss
      pouring out.

      After he had thoroughly cleaned the wound George sewed it up himself. he has
      the proper surgical needles and gut. He held the cut together with his left hand and
      pushed the needle through the flesh with his right. I pulled the needle out and passed it
      to George for the next stitch. I doubt whether a surgeon could have made a neater job
      of it. He is still confined to the couch but today his temperature is normal. Some

      The previous week was hectic in another way. We had a visit from lions! George
      and I were having supper about 8.30 on Tuesday night when the back verandah was
      suddenly invaded by women and children from the servants quarters behind the kitchen.
      They were all yelling “Simba, Simba.” – simba means lions. The door opened suddenly
      and the houseboy rushed in to say that there were lions at the huts. George got up
      swiftly, fetched gun and ammunition from the bedroom and with the houseboy carrying
      the lamp, went off to investigate. I remained at the table, carrying on with my supper as I
      felt a pioneer’s wife should! Suddenly something big leapt through the open window
      behind me. You can imagine what I thought! I know now that it is quite true to say one’s
      hair rises when one is scared. However it was only Kelly, our huge Irish wolfhound,
      taking cover.

      George returned quite soon to say that apparently the commotion made by the
      women and children had frightened the lions off. He found their tracks in the soft earth
      round the huts and a bag of maize that had been playfully torn open but the lions had
      moved on.

      Next day we heard that they had moved to Hickson-Wood’s shamba. Hicky
      came across to say that the lions had jumped over the wall of his cattle boma and killed
      both his white Muskat riding donkeys.
      He and a friend sat up all next night over the remains but the lions did not return to
      the kill.

      Apart from the little set back last week, Ann is blooming. She has a cap of very
      fine fair hair and clear blue eyes under straight brow. She also has lovely dimples in both
      cheeks. We are very proud of her.

      Our neighbours are picking coffee but the crops are small and the price is low. I
      am amazed that they are so optimistic about the future. No one in these parts ever
      seems to grouse though all are living on capital. They all say “Well if the worst happens
      we can always go up to the Lupa Diggings.”

      Don’t worry about us, we have enough to tide us over for some time yet.

      Much love to all,

      Mchewe Estate. 28th Sept. 1932

      Dearest Family,

      News! News! I’m going to have another baby. George and I are delighted and I
      hope it will be a boy this time. I shall be able to have him at Mbeya because things are
      rapidly changing here. Several German families have moved to Mbeya including a
      German doctor who means to build a hospital there. I expect he will make a very good
      living because there must now be some hundreds of Europeans within a hundred miles
      radius of Mbeya. The Europeans are mostly British or German but there are also
      Greeks and, I believe, several other nationalities are represented on the Lupa Diggings.
      Ann is blooming and developing according to the Book except that she has no
      teeth yet! Kath Hickson-Wood has given her a very nice high chair and now she has
      breakfast and lunch at the table with us. Everything within reach goes on the floor to her
      amusement and my exasperation!

      You ask whether we have any Church of England missionaries in our part. No we
      haven’t though there are Lutheran and Roman Catholic Missions. I have never even
      heard of a visiting Church of England Clergyman to these parts though there are babies
      in plenty who have not been baptised. Jolly good thing I had Ann Christened down

      The R.C. priests in this area are called White Fathers. They all have beards and
      wear white cassocks and sun helmets. One, called Father Keiling, calls around frequently.
      Though none of us in this area is Catholic we take it in turn to put him up for the night. The
      Catholic Fathers in their turn are most hospitable to travellers regardless of their beliefs.
      Rather a sad thing has happened. Lucas our old chicken-boy is dead. I shall miss
      his toothy smile. George went to the funeral and fired two farewell shots from his rifle
      over the grave – a gesture much appreciated by the locals. Lucas in his day was a good

      Several of the locals own muzzle loading guns but the majority hunt with dogs
      and spears. The dogs wear bells which make an attractive jingle but I cannot bear the
      idea of small antelope being run down until they are exhausted before being clubbed of
      stabbed to death. We seldom eat venison as George does not care to shoot buck.
      Recently though, he shot an eland and Abel rendered down the fat which is excellent for
      cooking and very like beef fat.

      Much love to all,

      Mchewe Estate. P.O.Mbeya 21st November 1932

      Dearest Family,

      George has gone off to the Lupa for a week with John Molteno. John came up
      here with the idea of buying a coffee farm but he has changed his mind and now thinks of
      staking some claims on the diggings and also setting up as a gold buyer.

      Did I tell you about his arrival here? John and George did some elephant hunting
      together in French Equatorial Africa and when John heard that George had married and
      settled in Tanganyika, he also decided to come up here. He drove up from Cape Town
      in a Baby Austin and arrived just as our labourers were going home for the day. The little
      car stopped half way up our hill and John got out to investigate. You should have heard
      the astonished exclamations when John got out – all 6 ft 5 ins. of him! He towered over
      the little car and even to me it seemed impossible for him to have made the long
      journey in so tiny a car.

      Kath Wood has been over several times lately. She is slim and looks so right in
      the shirt and corduroy slacks she almost always wears. She was here yesterday when
      the shamba boy, digging in the front garden, unearthed a large earthenware cooking pot,
      sealed at the top. I was greatly excited and had an instant mental image of fabulous
      wealth. We made the boy bring the pot carefully on to the verandah and opened it in
      happy anticipation. What do you think was inside? Nothing but a grinning skull! Such a
      treat for a pregnant female.

      We have a tree growing here that had lovely straight branches covered by a
      smooth bark. I got the garden boy to cut several of these branches of a uniform size,
      peeled off the bark and have made Ann a playpen with the poles which are much like
      broom sticks. Now I can leave her unattended when I do my chores. The other morning
      after breakfast I put Ann in her playpen on the verandah and gave her a piece of toast
      and honey to keep her quiet whilst I laundered a few of her things. When I looked out a
      little later I was horrified to see a number of bees buzzing around her head whilst she
      placidly concentrated on her toast. I made a rapid foray and rescued her but I still don’t
      know whether that was the thing to do.

      We all send our love,

      Mbeya Hospital. April 25th. 1933

      Dearest Family,

      Here I am, installed at the very new hospital, built by Dr Eckhardt, awaiting the
      arrival of the new baby. George has gone back to the farm on foot but will walk in again
      to spend the weekend with us. Ann is with me and enjoys the novelty of playing with
      other children. The Eckhardts have two, a pretty little girl of two and a half and a very fair
      roly poly boy of Ann’s age. Ann at fourteen months is very active. She is quite a little girl
      now with lovely dimples. She walks well but is backward in teething.

      George, Ann and I had a couple of days together at the hotel before I moved in
      here and several of the local women visited me and have promised to visit me in
      hospital. The trip from farm to town was very entertaining if not very comfortable. There
      is ten miles of very rough road between our farm and Utengule Mission and beyond the
      Mission there is a fair thirteen or fourteen mile road to Mbeya.

      As we have no car now the doctor’s wife offered to drive us from the Mission to
      Mbeya but she would not risk her car on the road between the Mission and our farm.
      The upshot was that I rode in the Hickson-Woods machila for that ten mile stretch. The
      machila is a canopied hammock, slung from a bamboo pole, in which I reclined, not too
      comfortably in my unwieldy state, with Ann beside me or sometime straddling me. Four
      of our farm boys carried the machila on their shoulders, two fore and two aft. The relief
      bearers walked on either side. There must have been a dozen in all and they sang a sort
      of sea shanty song as they walked. One man would sing a verse and the others took up
      the chorus. They often improvise as they go. They moaned about my weight (at least
      George said so! I don’t follow Ki-Swahili well yet) and expressed the hope that I would
      have a son and that George would reward them handsomely.

      George and Kelly, the dog, followed close behind the machila and behind
      George came Abel our cook and his wife and small daughter Annalie, all in their best
      attire. The cook wore a palm beach suit, large Terai hat and sunglasses and two colour
      shoes and quite lent a tone to the proceedings! Right at the back came the rag tag and
      bobtail who joined the procession just for fun.

      Mrs Eckhardt was already awaiting us at the Mission when we arrived and we had
      an uneventful trip to the Mbeya Hotel.

      During my last week at the farm I felt very tired and engaged the cook’s small
      daughter, Annalie, to amuse Ann for an hour after lunch so that I could have a rest. They
      played in the small verandah room which adjoins our bedroom and where I keep all my
      sewing materials. One afternoon I was startled by a scream from Ann. I rushed to the
      room and found Ann with blood steaming from her cheek. Annalie knelt beside her,
      looking startled and frightened, with my embroidery scissors in her hand. She had cut off
      half of the long curling golden lashes on one of Ann’s eyelids and, in trying to finish the
      job, had cut off a triangular flap of skin off Ann’s cheek bone.

      I called Abel, the cook, and demanded that he should chastise his daughter there and
      then and I soon heard loud shrieks from behind the kitchen. He spanked her with a
      bamboo switch but I am sure not as well as she deserved. Africans are very tolerant
      towards their children though I have seen husbands and wives fighting furiously.
      I feel very well but long to have the confinement over.

      Very much love,

      Mbeya Hospital. 2nd May 1933.

      Dearest Family,

      Little George arrived at 7.30 pm on Saturday evening 29 th. April. George was
      with me at the time as he had walked in from the farm for news, and what a wonderful bit
      of luck that was. The doctor was away on a case on the Diggings and I was bathing Ann
      with George looking on, when the pains started. George dried Ann and gave her
      supper and put her to bed. Afterwards he sat on the steps outside my room and a
      great comfort it was to know that he was there.

      The confinement was short but pretty hectic. The Doctor returned to the Hospital
      just in time to deliver the baby. He is a grand little boy, beautifully proportioned. The
      doctor says he has never seen a better formed baby. He is however rather funny
      looking just now as his head is, very temporarily, egg shaped. He has a shock of black
      silky hair like a gollywog and believe it or not, he has a slight black moustache.
      George came in, looked at the baby, looked at me, and we both burst out
      laughing. The doctor was shocked and said so. He has no sense of humour and couldn’t
      understand that we, though bursting with pride in our son, could never the less laugh at

      Friends in Mbeya have sent me the most gorgeous flowers and my room is
      transformed with delphiniums, roses and carnations. The room would be very austere
      without the flowers. Curtains, bedspread and enamelware, walls and ceiling are all
      snowy white.

      George hired a car and took Ann home next day. I have little George for
      company during the day but he is removed at night. I am longing to get him home and
      away from the German nurse who feeds him on black tea when he cries. She insists that
      tea is a medicine and good for him.

      Much love from a proud mother of two.

      Mchewe Estate 12May 1933

      Dearest Family,

      We are all together at home again and how lovely it feels. Even the house
      servants seem pleased. The boy had decorated the lounge with sprays of
      bougainvillaea and Abel had backed one of his good sponge cakes.

      Ann looked fat and rosy but at first was only moderately interested in me and the
      new baby but she soon thawed. George is good with her and will continue to dress Ann
      in the mornings and put her to bed until I am satisfied with Georgie.

      He, poor mite, has a nasty rash on face and neck. I am sure it is just due to that
      tea the nurse used to give him at night. He has lost his moustache and is fast loosing his
      wild black hair and emerging as quite a handsome babe. He is a very masculine looking
      infant with much more strongly marked eyebrows and a larger nose that Ann had. He is
      very good and lies quietly in his basket even when awake.

      George has been making a hatching box for brown trout ova and has set it up in
      a small clear stream fed by a spring in readiness for the ova which is expected from
      South Africa by next weeks plane. Some keen fishermen from Mbeya and the District
      have clubbed together to buy the ova. The fingerlings are later to be transferred to
      streams in Mbeya and Tukuyu Districts.

      I shall now have my hands full with the two babies and will not have much time for the
      garden, or I fear, for writing very long letters. Remember though, that no matter how
      large my family becomes, I shall always love you as much as ever.

      Your affectionate,

      Mchewe Estate. 14th June 1933

      Dearest Family,

      The four of us are all well but alas we have lost our dear Kelly. He was rather a
      silly dog really, although he grew so big he retained all his puppy ways but we were all
      very fond of him, especially George because Kelly attached himself to George whilst I
      was away having Ann and from that time on he was George’s shadow. I think he had
      some form of biliary fever. He died stretched out on the living room couch late last night,
      with George sitting beside him so that he would not feel alone.

      The children are growing fast. Georgie is a darling. He now has a fluff of pale
      brown hair and his eyes are large and dark brown. Ann is very plump and fair.
      We have had several visitors lately. Apart from neighbours, a car load of diggers
      arrived one night and John Molteno and his bride were here. She is a very attractive girl
      but, I should say, more suited to life in civilisation than in this back of beyond. She has
      gone out to the diggings with her husband and will have to walk a good stretch of the fifty
      or so miles.

      The diggers had to sleep in the living room on the couch and on hastily erected
      camp beds. They arrived late at night and left after breakfast next day. One had half a
      beard, the other side of his face had been forcibly shaved in the bar the night before.

      your affectionate,

      Mchewe Estate. August 10 th. 1933

      Dearest Family,

      George is away on safari with two Indian Army officers. The money he will get for
      his services will be very welcome because this coffee growing is a slow business, and
      our capitol is rapidly melting away. The job of acting as White Hunter was unexpected
      or George would not have taken on the job of hatching the ova which duly arrived from
      South Africa.

      George and the District Commissioner, David Pollock, went to meet the plane
      by which the ova had been consigned but the pilot knew nothing about the package. It
      came to light in the mail bag with the parcels! However the ova came to no harm. David
      Pollock and George brought the parcel to the farm and carefully transferred the ova to
      the hatching box. It was interesting to watch the tiny fry hatch out – a process which took
      several days. Many died in the process and George removed the dead by sucking
      them up in a glass tube.

      When hatched, the tiny fry were fed on ant eggs collected by the boys. I had to
      take over the job of feeding and removing the dead when George left on safari. The fry
      have to be fed every four hours, like the baby, so each time I have fed Georgie. I hurry
      down to feed the trout.

      The children are very good but keep me busy. Ann can now say several words
      and understands more. She adores Georgie. I long to show them off to you.

      Very much love

      Mchewe Estate. October 27th 1933

      Dear Family,

      All just over flu. George and Ann were very poorly. I did not fare so badly and
      Georgie came off best. He is on a bottle now.

      There was some excitement here last Wednesday morning. At 6.30 am. I called
      for boiling water to make Georgie’s food. No water arrived but muffled shouting and the
      sound of blows came from the kitchen. I went to investigate and found a fierce fight in
      progress between the house boy and the kitchen boy. In my efforts to make them stop
      fighting I went too close and got a sharp bang on the mouth with the edge of an
      enamelled plate the kitchen boy was using as a weapon. My teeth cut my lip inside and
      the plate cut it outside and blood flowed from mouth to chin. The boys were petrified.
      By the time I had fed Georgie the lip was stiff and swollen. George went in wrath
      to the kitchen and by breakfast time both house boy and kitchen boy had swollen faces
      too. Since then I have a kettle of boiling water to hand almost before the words are out
      of my mouth. I must say that the fight was because the house boy had clouted the
      kitchen boy for keeping me waiting! In this land of piece work it is the job of the kitchen
      boy to light the fire and boil the kettle but the houseboy’s job to carry the kettle to me.
      I have seen little of Kath Wood or Marion Coster for the past two months. Major
      Jones is the neighbour who calls most regularly. He has a wireless set and calls on all of
      us to keep us up to date with world as well as local news. He often brings oranges for
      Ann who adores him. He is a very nice person but no oil painting and makes no effort to
      entertain Ann but she thinks he is fine. Perhaps his monocle appeals to her.

      George has bought a six foot long galvanised bath which is a great improvement
      on the smaller oval one we have used until now. The smaller one had grown battered
      from much use and leaks like a sieve. Fortunately our bathroom has a cement floor,
      because one had to fill the bath to the brim and then bath extremely quickly to avoid
      being left high and dry.

      Lots and lots of love,

      Mchewe Estate. P.O. Mbeya 1st December 1933

      Dearest Family,

      Ann has not been well. We think she has had malaria. She has grown a good
      deal lately and looks much thinner and rather pale. Georgie is thriving and has such
      sparkling brown eyes and a ready smile. He and Ann make a charming pair, one so fair
      and the other dark.

      The Moltenos’ spent a few days here and took Georgie and me to Mbeya so
      that Georgie could be vaccinated. However it was an unsatisfactory trip because the
      doctor had no vaccine.

      George went to the Lupa with the Moltenos and returned to the farm in their Baby
      Austin which they have lent to us for a week. This was to enable me to go to Mbeya to
      have a couple of teeth filled by a visiting dentist.

      We went to Mbeya in the car on Saturday. It was quite a squash with the four of
      us on the front seat of the tiny car. Once George grabbed the babies foot instead of the
      gear knob! We had Georgie vaccinated at the hospital and then went to the hotel where
      the dentist was installed. Mr Dare, the dentist, had few instruments and they were very
      tarnished. I sat uncomfortably on a kitchen chair whilst he tinkered with my teeth. He filled
      three but two of the fillings came out that night. This meant another trip to Mbeya in the
      Baby Austin but this time they seem all right.

      The weather is very hot and dry and the garden a mess. We are having trouble
      with the young coffee trees too. Cut worms are killing off seedlings in the nursery and
      there is a borer beetle in the planted out coffee.

      George bought a large grey donkey from some wandering Masai and we hope
      the children will enjoy riding it later on.

      Very much love,

      Mchewe Estate. 14th February 1934.

      Dearest Family,

      You will be sorry to hear that little Ann has been very ill, indeed we were terribly
      afraid that we were going to lose her. She enjoyed her birthday on the 8th. All the toys
      you, and her English granny, sent were unwrapped with such delight. However next
      day she seemed listless and a bit feverish so I tucked her up in bed after lunch. I dosed
      her with quinine and aspirin and she slept fitfully. At about eleven o’clock I was
      awakened by a strange little cry. I turned up the night light and was horrified to see that
      Ann was in a convulsion. I awakened George who, as always in an emergency, was
      perfectly calm and practical. He filled the small bath with very warm water and emersed
      Ann in it, placing a cold wet cloth on her head. We then wrapped her in blankets and
      gave her an enema and she settled down to sleep. A few hours later we had the same
      thing over again.

      At first light we sent a runner to Mbeya to fetch the doctor but waited all day in
      vain and in the evening the runner returned to say that the doctor had gone to a case on
      the diggings. Ann had been feverish all day with two or three convulsions. Neither
      George or I wished to leave the bedroom, but there was Georgie to consider, and in
      the afternoon I took him out in the garden for a while whilst George sat with Ann.
      That night we both sat up all night and again Ann had those wretched attacks of
      convulsions. George and I were worn out with anxiety by the time the doctor arrived the
      next afternoon. Ann had not been able to keep down any quinine and had had only
      small sips of water since the onset of the attack.

      The doctor at once diagnosed the trouble as malaria aggravated by teething.
      George held Ann whilst the Doctor gave her an injection. At the first attempt the needle
      bent into a bow, George was furious! The second attempt worked and after a few hours
      Ann’s temperature dropped and though she was ill for two days afterwards she is now
      up and about. She has also cut the last of her baby teeth, thank God. She looks thin and
      white, but should soon pick up. It has all been a great strain to both of us. Georgie
      behaved like an angel throughout. He played happily in his cot and did not seem to
      sense any tension as people say, babies do. Our baby was cheerful and not at all

      This is the rainy season and it is a good thing that some work has been done on
      our road or the doctor might not have got through.

      Much love to all,

      Mchewe Estate. 1st October 1934

      Dearest Family,

      We are all well now, thank goodness, but last week Georgie gave us such a
      fright. I was sitting on the verandah, busy with some sewing and not watching Ann and
      Georgie, who were trying to reach a bunch of bananas which hung on a rope from a
      beam of the verandah. Suddenly I heard a crash, Georgie had fallen backward over the
      edge of the verandah and hit the back of his head on the edge of the brick furrow which
      carries away the rainwater. He lay flat on his back with his arms spread out and did not
      move or cry. When I picked him up he gave a little whimper, I carried him to his cot and
      bathed his face and soon he began sitting up and appeared quite normal. The trouble
      began after he had vomited up his lunch. He began to whimper and bang his head
      against the cot.

      George and I were very worried because we have no transport so we could not
      take Georgie to the doctor and we could not bear to go through again what we had gone
      through with Ann earlier in the year. Then, in the late afternoon, a miracle happened. Two
      men George hardly knew, and complete strangers to me, called in on their way from the
      diggings to Mbeya and they kindly drove Georgie and me to the hospital. The Doctor
      allowed me to stay with Georgie and we spent five days there. Luckily he responded to
      treatment and is now as alive as ever. Children do put years on one!

      There is nothing much else to report. We have a new vegetable garden which is
      doing well but the earth here is strange. Gardens seem to do well for two years but by
      that time the soil is exhausted and one must move the garden somewhere else. The
      coffee looks well but it will be another year before we can expect even a few bags of
      coffee and prices are still low. Anyway by next year George should have some good
      return for all his hard work.

      Lots of love,

      Mchewe Estate. November 4th 1934

      Dearest Family,

      George is home from his White Hunting safari looking very sunburnt and well.
      The elderly American, who was his client this time, called in here at the farm to meet me
      and the children. It is amazing what spirit these old lads have! This one looked as though
      he should be thinking in terms of slippers and an armchair but no, he thinks in terms of
      high powered rifles with telescopic sights.

      It is lovely being together again and the children are delighted to have their Dad
      home. Things are always exciting when George is around. The day after his return
      George said at breakfast, “We can’t go on like this. You and the kids never get off the
      shamba. We’ll simply have to get a car.” You should have heard the excitement. “Get a
      car Daddy?’” cried Ann jumping in her chair so that her plaits bounced. “Get a car
      Daddy?” echoed Georgie his brown eyes sparkling. “A car,” said I startled, “However
      can we afford one?”

      “Well,” said George, “on my way back from Safari I heard that a car is to be sold
      this week at the Tukuyu Court, diseased estate or bankruptcy or something, I might get it
      cheap and it is an A.C.” The name meant nothing to me, but George explained that an
      A.C. is first cousin to a Rolls Royce.

      So off he went to the sale and next day the children and I listened all afternoon for
      the sound of an approaching car. We had many false alarms but, towards evening we
      heard what appeared to be the roar of an aeroplane engine. It was the A.C. roaring her
      way up our steep hill with a long plume of steam waving gaily above her radiator.
      Out jumped my beaming husband and in no time at all, he was showing off her
      points to an admiring family. Her lines are faultless and seats though worn are most
      comfortable. She has a most elegant air so what does it matter that the radiator leaks like
      a sieve, her exhaust pipe has broken off, her tyres are worn almost to the canvas and
      she has no windscreen. She goes, and she cost only five pounds.

      Next afternoon George, the kids and I piled into the car and drove along the road
      on lookout for guinea fowl. All went well on the outward journey but on the homeward
      one the poor A.C. simply gasped and died. So I carried the shot gun and George
      carried both children and we trailed sadly home. This morning George went with a bunch
      of farmhands and brought her home. Truly temperamental, she came home literally
      under her own steam.

      George now plans to get a second hand engine and radiator for her but it won’t
      be an A.C. engine. I think she is the only one of her kind in the country.
      I am delighted to hear, dad, that you are sending a bridle for Joseph for
      Christmas. I am busy making a saddle out of an old piece of tent canvas stuffed with
      kapok, some webbing and some old rug straps. A car and a riding donkey! We’re
      definitely carriage folk now.

      Lots of love to all,

      Mchewe Estate. 28th December 1934

      Dearest Family,

      Thank you for the wonderful Christmas parcel. My frock is a splendid fit. George
      declares that no one can knit socks like Mummy and the children love their toys and new

      Joseph, the donkey, took his bit with an air of bored resignation and Ann now
      rides proudly on his back. Joseph is a big strong animal with the looks and disposition of
      a mule. he will not go at all unless a native ‘toto’ walks before him and when he does go
      he wears a pained expression as though he were carrying fourteen stone instead of
      Ann’s fly weight. I walk beside the donkey carrying Georgie and our cat, ‘Skinny Winnie’,
      follows behind. Quite a cavalcade. The other day I got so exasperated with Joseph that
      I took Ann off and I got on. Joseph tottered a few paces and sat down! to the huge
      delight of our farm labourers who were going home from work. Anyway, one good thing,
      the donkey is so lazy that there is little chance of him bolting with Ann.

      The Moltenos spent Christmas with us and left for the Lupa Diggings yesterday.
      They arrived on the 22nd. with gifts for the children and chocolates and beer. That very
      afternoon George and John Molteno left for Ivuna, near Lake Ruckwa, to shoot some
      guinea fowl and perhaps a goose for our Christmas dinner. We expected the menfolk
      back on Christmas Eve and Anne and I spent a busy day making mince pies and
      sausage rolls. Why I don’t know, because I am sure Abel could have made them better.
      We decorated the Christmas tree and sat up very late but no husbands turned up.
      Christmas day passed but still no husbands came. Anne, like me, is expecting a baby
      and we both felt pretty forlorn and cross. Anne was certain that they had been caught up
      in a party somewhere and had forgotten all about us and I must say when Boxing Day
      went by and still George and John did not show up I felt ready to agree with her.
      They turned up towards evening and explained that on the homeward trip the car
      had bogged down in the mud and that they had spent a miserable Christmas. Anne
      refused to believe their story so George, to prove their case, got the game bag and
      tipped the contents on to the dining room table. Out fell several guinea fowl, long past
      being edible, followed by a large goose so high that it was green and blue where all the
      feathers had rotted off.

      The stench was too much for two pregnant girls. I shot out of the front door
      closely followed by Anne and we were both sick in the garden.

      I could not face food that evening but Anne is made of stronger stuff and ate her
      belated Christmas dinner with relish.

      I am looking forward enormously to having Marjorie here with us. She will be able
      to carry back to you an eyewitness account of our home and way of life.

      Much love to you all,

      Mchewe Estate. 5th January 1935

      Dearest Family,

      You cannot imagine how lovely it is to have Marjorie here. She came just in time
      because I have had pernicious vomiting and have lost a great deal of weight and she
      took charge of the children and made me spend three days in hospital having treatment.
      George took me to the hospital on the afternoon of New Years Eve and decided
      to spend the night at the hotel and join in the New Years Eve celebrations. I had several
      visitors at the hospital that evening and George actually managed to get some imported
      grapes for me. He returned to the farm next morning and fetched me from the hospital
      four days later. Of course the old A.C. just had to play up. About half way home the
      back axle gave in and we had to send a passing native some miles back to a place
      called Mbalizi to hire a lorry from a Greek trader to tow us home to the farm.
      The children looked well and were full of beans. I think Marjorie was thankful to
      hand them over to me. She is delighted with Ann’s motherly little ways but Georgie she
      calls “a really wild child”. He isn’t, just has such an astonishing amount of energy and is
      always up to mischief. Marjorie brought us all lovely presents. I am so thrilled with my
      sewing machine. It may be an old model but it sews marvellously. We now have an
      Alsatian pup as well as Joseph the donkey and the two cats.

      Marjorie had a midnight encounter with Joseph which gave her quite a shock but
      we had a good laugh about it next day. Some months ago George replaced our wattle
      and daub outside pit lavatory by a substantial brick one, so large that Joseph is being
      temporarily stabled in it at night. We neglected to warn Marj about this and one night,
      storm lamp in hand, she opened the door and Joseph walked out braying his thanks.
      I am afraid Marjorie is having a quiet time, a shame when the journey from Cape
      Town is so expensive. The doctor has told me to rest as much as I can, so it is
      impossible for us to take Marj on sight seeing trips.

      I hate to think that she will be leaving in ten days time.

      Much love,

      Mchewe Estate. 18th February 1935

      Dearest Family,

      You must be able to visualise our life here quite well now that Marj is back and
      has no doubt filled in all the details I forget to mention in my letters. What a journey we
      had in the A.C. when we took her to the plane. George, the children and I sat in front and
      Marj sat behind with numerous four gallon tins of water for the insatiable radiator. It was
      raining and the canvas hood was up but part of the side flaps are missing and as there is
      no glass in the windscreen the rain blew in on us. George got fed up with constantly
      removing the hot radiator cap so simply stuffed a bit of rag in instead. When enough
      steam had built up in the radiator behind the rag it blew out and we started all over again.
      The car still roars like an aeroplane engine and yet has little power so that George sent
      gangs of boys to the steep hills between the farm and the Mission to give us a push if
      necessary. Fortunately this time it was not, and the boys cheered us on our way. We
      needed their help on the homeward journey however.

      George has now bought an old Chev engine which he means to install before I
      have to go to hospital to have my new baby. It will be quite an engineering feet as
      George has few tools.

      I am sorry to say that I am still not well, something to do with kidneys or bladder.
      George bought me some pills from one of the several small shops which have opened
      in Mbeya and Ann is most interested in the result. She said seriously to Kath Wood,
      “Oh my Mummy is a very clever Mummy. She can do blue wee and green wee as well
      as yellow wee.” I simply can no longer manage the children without help and have
      engaged the cook’s wife, Janey, to help. The children are by no means thrilled. I plead in
      vain that I am not well enough to go for walks. Ann says firmly, “Ann doesn’t want to go
      for a walk. Ann will look after you.” Funny, though she speaks well for a three year old,
      she never uses the first person. Georgie say he would much rather walk with
      Keshokutwa, the kitchen boy. His name by the way, means day-after-tomorrow and it
      suits him down to the ground, Kath Wood walks over sometimes with offers of help and Ann will gladly go walking with her but Georgie won’t. He on the other hand will walk with Anne Molteno
      and Ann won’t. They are obstinate kids. Ann has developed a very fertile imagination.
      She has probably been looking at too many of those nice women’s magazines you
      sent. A few days ago she said, “You are sick Mummy, but Ann’s got another Mummy.
      She’s not sick, and my other mummy (very smugly) has lovely golden hair”. This
      morning’ not ten minutes after I had dressed her, she came in with her frock wet and
      muddy. I said in exasperation, “Oh Ann, you are naughty.” To which she instantly
      returned, “My other Mummy doesn’t think I am naughty. She thinks I am very nice.” It
      strikes me I shall have to get better soon so that I can be gay once more and compete
      with that phantom golden haired paragon.

      We had a very heavy storm over the farm last week. There was heavy rain with
      hail which stripped some of the coffee trees and the Mchewe River flooded and the
      water swept through the lower part of the shamba. After the water had receded George
      picked up a fine young trout which had been stranded. This was one of some he had
      put into the river when Georgie was a few months old.

      The trials of a coffee farmer are legion. We now have a plague of snails. They
      ring bark the young trees and leave trails of slime on the glossy leaves. All the ring
      barked trees will have to be cut right back and this is heartbreaking as they are bearing
      berries for the first time. The snails are collected by native children, piled upon the
      ground and bashed to a pulp which gives off a sickening stench. I am sorry for the local
      Africans. Locusts ate up their maize and now they are losing their bean crop to the snails.

      Lots of love, Eleanor


        Warren Brothers Boiler Makers

        Samuel Warren, my great grandfather, and husband of Florence Nightingale Gretton, worked with the family company of boiler makers in Newhall in his early years.  He developed an interest in motor cars, and left the family business to start up on his own. By all accounts, he made some bad decisions and borrowed a substantial amount of money from his sister. It was because of this disastrous state of affairs that the impoverished family moved from Swadlincote/Newhall to Stourbridge.

        1914:  Tram no 10 on Union Road going towards High Street Newhall. On the left Henry Harvey Engineer, on the right Warren Bros Boiler Manufacturers & Engineers:

        Warren Bros Newhall


        I found a newspaper article in the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal dated the 2nd October 1915 about a Samuel Warren of Warren Brothers Boilermakers, but it was about my great grandfathers uncle, also called Samuel.

        DEATH OF MR. SAMUEL WARREN, OF NEWHALL. Samuel Warren, of Rose Villa, Newhall, passed away on Saturday evening at the age of 85.. Of somewhat retiring disposition, he took little or no active part in public affairs, but for many years was trustee of the loyal British Oak Lodge of the M.U. of Oddfellows, and in many other ways served His community when opportunity permitted. He was member of the firm of Warren Bros., of the Boiler Works, Newhall. This thriving business was established by the late Mr. Benjamin Bridge, over 60 years ago, and on his death it was taken over by his four nephews. Mr. William Warren died several years ago, and with the demise Mr. Samuel Warren, two brothers remain, Messrs. Henry and Benjamin Warren. He leaves widow, six daughters, and three sons to mourn his loss. 

        Samuel Warren


        This was the first I’d heard of Benjamin Bridge.  William Warren mentioned in the article as having died previously was Samuel’s father, my great great grandfather. William’s brother Henry was the father of Ben Warren, the footballer.

        But who was Benjamin Bridge?

        Samuel’s father was William Warren 1835-1881. He had a brother called Samuel, mentioned above, and William’s father was also named Samuel.  Samuel Warren 1800-1882 married Elizabeth Bridge 1813-1872. Benjamin Bridge 1811-1898 was Elizabeth’s brother.

        Burton Chronicle 28 July 1898:

        Benjamin Bridge

        Benjamin and his wife Jane had no children. According to the obituary in the newspaper, the couple were fondly remembered for their annual tea’s for the widows of the town. Benjamin Bridge’s house was known as “the preachers house”. He was superintendent of Newhall Sunday School and member of Swadlincote’s board of health. And apparently very fond of a tall white hat!

        On the 1881 census, Benjamin Bridge and his wife live near to the Warren family in Newhall.  The Warren’s live in the “boiler yard” and the family living in between the Bridge’s and the Warren’s include an apprentice boiler maker, so we can assume these were houses incorporated in the boiler works property. Benjamin is a 72 year old retired boiler maker.  Elizabeth Warren is a widow (William died in 1881), two of her sons are boiler makers, and Samuel, my great grandfather, is on the next page of the census, at seven years old.

        Bridge Warren Census 1881


        Warren Brothers made boilers for the Burton breweries, including Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton.

        This receipt from Warrens Boiler yard for a new boiler in 1885 was purchased off Ebay by Colin Smith. He gave it to one of the grandsons of Robert Adolphus Warren, to keep in the Warren family. It is in his safe at home, and he promised Colin that it will stay in the family forever.

        Warren Bros Receipt


          Ben Warren

          Derby County and England football legend who died aged 37 penniless and ‘insane’


          Ben Warren

          Ben Warren 1879 – 1917  was Samuel Warren’s (my great grandfather) cousin.

          From the Derby Telegraph:

          Just 17 months after earning his 22nd England cap, against Scotland at Everton on April 1, 1911, he was certified insane. What triggered his decline was no more than a knock on the knee while playing for Chelsea against Clapton Orient.

          The knee would not heal and the longer he was out, the more he fretted about how he’d feed his wife and four children. In those days, if you didn’t play, there was no pay. 

          …..he had developed “brain fever” and this mild-mannered man had “become very strange and, at times, violent”. The coverage reflected his celebrity status.

          On December 15, 1911, as Rick Glanvill records in his Official Biography of Chelsea FC: “He was admitted to a private clinic in Nottingham, suffering from acute mania, delusions that he was being poisoned and hallucinations of hearing and vision.”

          He received another blow in February, 1912, when his mother, Emily, died. She had congestion of the lungs and caught influenza, her condition not helped, it was believed, by worrying about Ben.

          She had good reason: her famous son would soon be admitted to the unfortunately named Derby County Lunatic Asylum.

          Ben Warren Madman


          As Britain sleepwalked towards the First World War, Ben’s condition deteriorated. Glanvill writes: “His case notes from what would be a five-year stay, catalogue a devastating decline in which he is at various times described as incoherent, restless, destructive, ‘stuporose’ and ‘a danger to himself’.’”

          photo: Football 27th April 1914. A souvenir programme for the testimonial game for Chelsea and England’s Ben Warren, (pictured) who had been declared insane and sent to a lunatic asylum. The game was a select XI for the North playing a select XI from The South proceeds going to Warren’s family.

          Ben Warren 1914


          In September, that decline reached a new and pitiable low. The following is an abridged account of what The Courier called “an amazing incident” that took place on September 4.

          “Spotted by a group of men while walking down Derby Road in Nottingham, a man was acting strangely, smoking a cigarette and had nothing on but a collar and tie.

          “He jumped about the pavement and roadway, as though playing an imaginary game of football. When approached, he told them he was going to Trent Bridge to play in a match and had to be there by 3.30.”

          Eventually he was taken to a police station and recognised by a reporter as England’s erstwhile right-half. What made the story even harder to digest was that Ben had escaped from the asylum and walked the 20 miles to Nottingham apparently unnoticed.

          He had played at “Trent Bridge” many times – at least on Nottingham Forest’s adjacent City Ground.

          As a shocked nation came to terms with the desperate plight of one of its finest footballers, some papers suggested his career was not yet over. And his relatives claimed that he had been suffering from nothing more than a severe nervous breakdown.

          He would never be the same again – as a player or a man. He wasn’t even a shadow of the weird “footballer” who had walked 20 miles to Nottingham.

          Then, he had nothing on, now he just had nothing – least of all self-respect. He ripped sheets into shreds and attempted suicide, saying: “I’m no use to anyone – and ought to be out of the way.”

          “A year before his suicide attempt in 1916 the ominous symptom of ‘dry cough’ had been noted. Two months after it, in October 1916, the unmistakable signs of tuberculosis were noted and his enfeebled body rapidly succumbed.

          At 11.30pm on 15 January 1917, international footballer Ben Warren was found dead by a night attendant.

          He was 37 and when they buried him the records described him as a “pauper’.”

          However you look at it, it is the salutary tale of a footballer worrying about money. And it began with a knock on the knee.

          On 14th November 2021, Gill Castle posted on the Newhall and Swadlincote group:

          I would like to thank Colin Smith and everyone who supported him in getting my great grandfather’s grave restored (Ben Warren who played for Derby, Chelsea and England)

          The month before, Colin Smith posted:

          My Ben Warren Journey is nearly complete.
          It started two years ago when I was sent a family wedding photograph asking if I recognised anyone. My Great Great Grandmother was on there. But soon found out it was the wedding of Ben’s brother Robert to my 1st cousin twice removed, Eveline in 1910.
          I researched Ben and his football career and found his resting place in St Johns Newhall, all overgrown and in a poor state with the large cross all broken off. I stood there and decided he needed to new memorial & headstone. He was our local hero, playing Internationally for England 22 times. He needs to be remembered.
          After seeking family permission and Council approval, I had a quote from Art Stone Memorials, Burton on Trent to undertake the work. Fundraising then started and the memorial ordered.
          Covid came along and slowed the process of getting materials etc. But we have eventually reached the final installation today.
          I am deeply humbled for everyone who donated in January this year to support me and finally a massive thank you to everyone, local people, football supporters of Newhall, Derby County & Chelsea and football clubs for their donations.
          Ben will now be remembered more easily when anyone walks through St Johns and see this beautiful memorial just off the pathway.
          Finally a huge thank you for Art Stone Memorials Team in everything they have done from the first day I approached them. The team have worked endlessly on this project to provide this for Ben and his family as a lasting memorial. Thank you again Alex, Pat, Matt & Owen for everything. Means a lot to me.
          The final chapter is when we have a dedication service at the grave side in a few weeks time,
          Ben was born in The Thorntree Inn Newhall South Derbyshire and lived locally all his life.
          He played local football for Swadlincote, Newhall Town and Newhall Swifts until Derby County signed Ben in May 1898. He made 242 appearances and scored 19 goals at Derby County.
          28th July 1908 Chelsea won the bidding beating Leicester Fosse & Manchester City bids.
          Ben also made 22 appearance’s for England including the 1908 First Overseas tour playing Austria twice, Hungary and Bohemia all in a week.
          28 October 1911 Ben Injured his knee and never played football again
          Ben is often compared with Steven Gerard for his style of play and team ethic in the modern era.
          Herbert Chapman ( Player & Manager ) comments “ Warren was a human steam engine who played through 90 minutes with intimidating strength and speed”.
          Charles Buchan comments “I am certain that a better half back could not be found, Part of the Best England X1 of all time”
          Chelsea allowed Ben to live in Sunnyside Newhall, he used to run 5 miles every day round Bretby Park and had his own gym at home. He was compared to the likes of a Homing Pigeon, as he always came back to Newhall after his football matches.
          Ben married Minnie Staley 21st October 1902 at Emmanuel Church Swadlincote and had four children, Harry, Lillian, Maurice & Grenville. Harry went on to be Manager at Coventry & Southend following his father in his own career as football Manager.
          After Ben’s football career ended in 1911 his health deteriorated until his passing at Derby Pastures Hospital aged 37yrs
          Ben’s youngest son, Grenville passed away 22nd May 1929 and is interred together in St John’s Newhall with his Father
          His wife, Minnie’s ashes are also with Ben & Grenville.
          Thank you again everyone.
          RIP Ben Warren, our local Newhall Hero. You are remembered.

          Ben Warren grave


          Ben Warren Grave

          Ben Warren Grave



            Looking for Photographs

            I appreciate how fortunate I am that there are so many family photographs on various sides of the family, however, on some sides, for example the Warrens and the Grettons, there are no photographs. I’d love to find a photograph of my great grandmother Florence Nightingale Gretton, as she is the only great grandparent I don’t have a photo of.

            I look on other people’s family trees on ancestry websites, and I join local town memories and old photos groups on facebook hoping to find photos. And I have found a few, and what a prize it is to find a photograph of someone in your tree.  None found so far of Florence Nightingale Gretton, although I found one of her sister Clara, her brother Charles, and another potential one, posted on a Swadlincote group: a Warren wedding group in 1910.

            Charles Herbert Gretton 1876-1954 and his wife Mary Ann Illsley:

            Charles Gretton


            The wedding of Robert Adolphus Warren and Eveline Crofts.  Photo in the collection of Colin Smith, Eveline Crofts first cousin twice removed. Reposted with permission:

            Warren wedding 1910

            The groom was Florence’s husbands cousin, but identifying my great grandparents in the crowd would be guesswork.  My grandmother was born in 1906, and could be one of the children sitting at the front.  It was an interesting exercise to note the family likenesses.

            Ben Warren the footballer is the man on the far right, on the same line as the groom. His children are sitting in front of the bride.

            There are many mentions of Ben Warren the footballer on the Newhall and Swadlincote groups ~ Ben Warren was my great grandfathers cousin, and is a story in itself ~ and a photograph of Ben’s daughter, Lillian Warren was posted.

            Lillian Warren (reposted with permission)

            Lillian Warren


            Lillian was my grandmothers first cousin once removed or second cousin. The resemblance to my grandmother, Florence Noreen Warren, seems striking.


            “Is that… a flying drone?” the woman asked, pointing at the buzzing monster that just flew past them
            “Nope, it’s a cicada. The ones around here are huge”
            “No way! That thing was carrying a cat!”
            “Yep. They tend to get hungry that time of year. The mating and all…”

            She gasped for air, unconsciously voicing her thoughts “How come those things became so enormous?”

            The guy replied calmly “There’s a theory… That gaping hole…
            “The one that appeared in the ground a few weeks ago, the size of a football field?”
            “Yeah, that one…”
            “I thought it was the reason why they called the Surge Team, although it’s a bit late, now. What about it? “
            “It’s not really the reason why we called you. The hole was benign, the region was inhabited for years. But it released cubic tons worth of oxygen in the atmosphere.”
            “So what?” she was puzzled.
            “Well, that theory states that insects size is proportional to the amount of oxygen in the air… Supposedly the reason why there were giant insects in the prehistoric ages…”
            “Yep,… wait till you see the size of the mosquitoes”, he said handing her a shotgun.


              The dogs barking woke Lisa up; at first she assumed she had woken up disorientated and disgruntled because of that, but then she recalled all the screaming, no, more like bellowing, she’d been doing in her dream. Intense passionate bellowing howls, like an expulsion of pained frustrated energy, of outrage. Frustratingly, she recalled no details. There had been a similar dream the previous Easter when she was sick ~ the same kind of howls, and she had felt much better afterwards, but she wasn’t sick now ~ in fact, she had been feeling better than she had in a long time.
              Sipping her tea and still feeling cranky at being woken up, Lisa recalled the strange phone call she’d received the night before, and had a feeling it might be an element of her dream. One of her neighbours from just outside the village phoned, Clarissa. Clarissa was a young widow; since her elderly husband had died some months ago, and she had lived alone with her eight dogs. There had been nobody to ensure she took the medication she needed for her condition, which had resulted in a series of challenging episodes, alarming the locals. A few weeks ago, one of Juan’s sheep had been talking to her and wouldn’t stop, so she killed it in the lane outside her house. The sheep kept talking to her, so she cut it’s head off (a gruesome struggle by all accounts, although thankfully Lisa hadn’t witnessed it herself). The severed sheeps head continued to talk to the troubled Clarissa, so she kept the head on her verandah. That was the last thing that Lisa had heard when she received the unexpected phone call.
              Clarissa was polite and friendly on the phone, inviting Lisa and Jack over for drinks ~ insisting really with an edge of desperation in her voice. Lisa declined the invitition, and omitted to mention that Jack was out playing poker. If it had not been for the sheep incident, Lisa might have responded differently, but her sense of responsibility to her own animals made her cautious. Then, to her horror, Clarissa offered to come round and feed Lisa’s dogs.
              As soon as the long and insistent phone call ended, Lisa gathered all the dogs up into the gated top patio; a little later she was gratified to hear a noisy game of football going on in the street outside. Had she over reacted? Should she have had more compassion for the distressed young woman? Lisa lit another cigarette, feeling confused. She had only met Clarissa once, many years ago, and had no idea why she had called her, or where she got her phone number from. She knew of her because of the convoluted connecting links between them ~ Clarissa’s husband had been her own friends father. And she had heard about the various incidents since he had died from other neighbours.
              Lisa had the unsettling feeling that she had refused a call for help. On the other hand, she felt that she had responded to the call for help in merely speaking to Clarissa on the phone. Lisa had been kindly towards her, although not encouraging of any physical contact.
              Lisa sighed. She felt a stronger connection to Clarissa now, but was unsure what it would entail.


              In reply to: Strings of Nines


                Yoland decided to have another go at the Pink Radio Exercise with a few online freinds.

                (I’m procrastinating over turning this damn radio on…) she typed.

                ~ special effects from Franz E ~
                (that’s what I just heard and we didn’t say START yet)


                (I’m procrastinating over turning this damn radio on…)

                ~ you see you weren’t listening. I said special effects from Franz E and you stopped listening immediately. ~ (well I was writing it down) ~
                ~ (mans voice) …, and you don’t know whether or not to listen, do you… I didnt think so, off you go ~ (then a football match can you beleive it, can’t get off the football station) ~ and this is the whether station again, whether or not we want to listen ~ (mind wanders) ~ and the whether is changable ~ (mans voice sounds amused)

                (Its channel 46 FWIW, I just asked him. And his name is either Roy or Gilroy. Gilroy.)

                ~ Gilroy Spadhammer ~ (now he’s laughing)

                (ok lets see if I can move off the whether and football channels…..)

                ~ the whether is stabilizing ~ GOAL! ~ song: we’re all going on a summer holiday ~ Wakefield Pressman (solemn male voice)~

                Yoland was sidetracked then by Teleport Moll’s sudden appearance, and forgot all about Wakefield Pressman.

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