Home' Travel News : August-September 2017 Contents 16 travel news august/september 2017
august/september 2017 travel news 17
Built in 1913 by Indian businessman
Gurdit Singh Nayer, Kipande House was
initially a railway warehouse when the
train line went along Loita Street before
it was rerouted in 1951. The clock tower
above the two-storey structure made it the
tallest building until City Hall was built in
1935. Kipande House is now a national
monument and is a branch of the Kenya
On the opposite side of Kenyatta Avenue,
at the intersection with Uhuru Highway is
the Nairobi Gallery, which occupies the
former Provincial Commissioner’s office.
A marble plaque near the entrance says it
was built for the Ministry of Native Affairs
in 1913 and was informally called ‘the
hatches, matches and dispatches office’
because this is where births, marriages
and deaths were registered. Inside the
Gallery is ‘point zero’ that marks the point
from which all distances from Nairobi were
As a main thoroughfare in downtown
Nairobi, Kenyatta Avenue has the greater
share of historic markers. Opposite the
New Stanley Hotel is a red brick building
with white-framed windows that was
inspired by the City Hall of Stockholm,
Sweden. This was Torrs Hotel, built in 1928
by the unconventional Ewart Grogan who
trekked the length of Africa to impress his
future father-in-law. Torrs has undergone
several ownership changes and is now
the downtown branch of Stanbic Bank.
The Carrier Corps memorial sits on a
traffic island off Kenyatta Avenue and
commemorates African men who served in
World Wars I and II. Behind the memorial,
and next to the Standard Chartered Bank,
is Westminster House, a three-floor
building with stone balustrade balconies.
It was built in 1928 as a hotel but is now
the a branch of Eco Bank.
Top: Kipande House. Above:
Torr's Hotel now Stanbic House.
Left: The Carrier Corps Memorial
commemorates African men who
served in both World Wars.
Adjacent to Westminster House is Pan African House, with corners of quoin stones and
a pillared entrance.
From Westminster House, you can look across Kenyatta Avenue to the Bank of India,
which originally housed the Legislative Council that governed the colony of Kenya. The
Bank of India purchased the building in 1958 and at some point over the years, this
fine, two-storey building with understated window adornments was spoiled with the
addition of odd white fins running from top to bottom.
Next to it is Cameo House that opened as the prestigious Theatre Royal in 1912. It was
the first theatre and cinema house in East Africa. In the 1960s it was redesigned into
a cinema, which distinguished itself by screening movies from noon to midnight. But
today this rather drab-looking structure is a casino.
The Bank of India, however, was initially established in 1911 as the National Bank
of India at what is presently the Kenya National Archives, which contains important
historical documents and a collection of rare African artefacts. The dark red columns of
the building lend an air of neoclassic antiquity to the blank yellow walls of the National
Another remarkable bank building is the Queensway
House branch of Barclays Bank. It is located on
Mama Ngina Street that used to be Queens Way
before it was renamed after the first lady of Kenya.
Queensway House is a neat structure with white
walls over a slate grey ground floor, unadorned
windows, and a pair of square pillars on the upper
In the Georgian tradition is City Hall built in 1935
with its triangular pediment, Roman columns and
rusticated ground-floor stonework. Along with the
all-white colour, tall windows and clean-cut lines,
City Hall remains one of the most attractive buildings
One more noteworthy example of classic architecture
is the imposing Kenya Railways headquarters
completed in 1927. (see image in Parting Shot page
43) Built as a broad, three-floor complex around an
open courtyard, it has sandy coloured walls and
black-framed windows that open onto wrought iron
balconies, and above its arched portico entrance
are grand, Greek-style columns.
Links Archive June-July 2017 October-November 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page