I had already done a stretch of gravestone photographing in great heat, thinking to myself about mad dogs and Englishmen, and next on my list was the Hall. I had seen photos of its opening in Hobson's book Showtime, and wanted to see what it looked like now, only having glimpsed it a couple of times from the road. (Kafue still feels relatively open and undeveloped as compared to Lusaka, though the land on either side of the road between the two is rapidly being developed.)
My memories of Kafue are mainly of going to buy hooks for 1 ngwee from one of the few shops, then going down to the river at the Makeni Centre Agricultural Settlement Village (started in the early 70s), where my cousin and I would hook sardine sized fish with our bit of fishing line tied to a bamboo pole, and our 1 ngwee hooks, and a little bread rolled into bait. Great days.
First here is the organising committee for the Agricultural Show in 1925, including the aforementioned Percy Light, who I am told never married, and died in 1941. His mother apparently also died in Northern Rhodesia in 1939. He was a long-serving secretary who opposed the move of the show to Lusaka, but as we know this was to happen. It appears that he also served during WWI.
This photo from Showtime taken in 1925 includes (back row, left to right) Eddie Kirby, Percy Light, Hubert Kirby (behind Percy), Capt F. Goodson, unknown, M. King, Chester Dean, J Woodrow Cross, unknown, Harry Dunbar, unknown, Alan Girling, Harry D. Frost, (seated) Capt John Brown, Mrs Mchellen and on the far right Mr and Mrs H W Cross.
Next we have the opening of the Beit Hall in 1931.
The hall was designed by A.T. Flutter, the Beit Society's architect and cost the Beit Railway Trust £4,500, "a special donation obtained through the good services of Sir Drummond", who also opened the building. The building had a ballroom, entrance hall (seen in the middle below), bar, dining room, kitchen and three bedrooms. One can imagine the "wholly delightful dance... attended by more than 200 people" reported by the Bulawayo chronicle.
And here is the hall in 2011, not looking so different externally (but read on).
This is the area facing the hall, rather dusty and unattractive.
Elections had just been held and there was graffiti on the wall here.
This must be inside the ballroom where the opening was held. The ceiling was in some disrepair, the stage obscured. There was a church choir here practising, and singing beautifully I must say.