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Delamere died in 1931. He’d been politically outspoken, eccentric, but respected for his
significant achievements. He was father of many industries, including the filming of big
game - he arranged the filming of the first Maasai lion hunt. He imported shorthorn bulls
from England to start a dairy herd, funding the KCC. Meanwhile, to support his meat
business he built the Colony’s first cold store in Mombasa. But to fund everything he’d
sold most of his English estate (almost 5,000 acres) in 1928.
Delamere’s statue was erected in 1932 and paid for by the settler’s association on the
former Delamere Avenue in Nairobi, in front of the New Stanley Hotel.
At independence in 1963, there was the option to have it melted down and remoulded
into a statue of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta. Instead, this work of art, cast by
Kennett Scott, the widow of Scott of Antarctic fame, was moved to Soysambu.
In spite of attempts to link Delamere with the infamous, debauched carousers in Happy
Valley who gave the colony a tarnished name in the 1920s, he didn’t drink - although
enjoyed the occasional party. His son Thomas, 4th Baron Delamare, lived at Vale Royal
until he came to Kenya with his family in 1939, selling the family home in 1946 to continue
funding the Kenyan enterprises. His only tenuous link with the Happy Valley clique was
that in 1955, fourteen years after the Lord Erroll murder, he married Diana Colville –
who’d been through three husbands and was having an affair with Erroll when he was
murdered. Some said she’d shot him. The 4th Baron’s son from his first wife, is Hugh:
the 5th Baron admits he didn’t get on well with Diana, while his father’s previous wife,
Mary, (another step-mother) referred to Diana as “the murderess”.
They lived in the old Manager’s house near the offices, which Diana, Lady Delamere,
added onto, building the front drawing room which is seldom used today. They used it
before dinner, an occasion for which they always dressed formerly.
Nearly one hundred years after it was built, the house is a sprawling, but modest
bungalow. Unlike Diana’s lifestyle, the 5th Baron’s is simple. Dropping in before lunch
finds Lord and Lady Delamere on their back verandah, attended by a battalion of
vociferous starlings, doves and sparrows. This patio, built by Diana, had a bougainvillea
covered trellis, but the 5th Baron has made it rain-proof, adding a tiled floor. With typical
gracious hospitality, the Delameres showed me old photographs: the original house and
office, beside which is an imported wooden pre-fab house from Norway, in a barren,
treeless landscape. Lord Delamere points out to me the original stone on this verandah:
the ones with bulges, brought in from Nakuru, because before 1919 it was prohibited
to cut stone or timber on your own land. The flatter stones show later additions to the
house: soft yellow stone, quarried on the farm. There is a photograph of Boy Long, the
3rd Baron and the Prince of Wales – the latter “even shorter than grandfather” as the
5th Baron, who is well over 6 foot, wryly puts it. Lady Delamere produces copies of
fascinating documents, including Boy Long’s diaries and a letter dated 7th March 1911,
to Lady Delamere, from Roosevelt, thanking her for her hospitality, praising her and her
husband’s significant contribution to East Africa and Greater Britain. “I have never been
happier than for the last 4 months,” Roosevelt writes, adding that he told his family how
much he prized their friendship.
Lord Delamere, passionate about his cattle, explains that while his grandfather had little
success with cattle breeding, his father had more - but preferred horses. The 3rd Baron
brought those first Boran breeds from the north, via Ol Pejeta to Soysambu where there
was “a scruffy mix”. Ol Pejeta was purchased by his grandfather from settlers who had
been allocated it in the post-War soldier-settler scheme, but found it too dry. Delamere’s
father later sold it in order to develop Manera, their Naivasha farm. The 5th Baron has
been forced to sell most of Manera.
Today it’s impossible to get good photographs from the same vantage points as the old
ones: vast trees and shrubs fill the lush gardens and the buildings, added onto in all
The statue prior
to its removal
from Nairobi in
1963 and today at
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