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Name: NORMAN, Leigh K.
First Date: 1929
Profession: Partner in a sawmill
Area: 'Dunmillin' farm, Endebess, Kitale
Children: Christopher L. (15 July 1929-19 Aug 2022 S. Africa); Rosamund (1931)
Book Reference: Red 31, Hut, Trans Nzoia Scrap Book
Trans Nzoia Scrap Book - Mount Elgon Saw Mill - In about 1910 Odin Sunde set up a saw mill on the Rongai River which flows down the North-East slope of Mount Elgon. His home-made water wheel drove the circular saw and the rawhide belt was regularly chewed up by hyenas at night. His Post Office was Soy, 45 miles away, and all timber had to be moved the 120 miles to railhead at Londiani by ox-wagons without benefit of roads or bridges.
In 1922, with a loan from Henry Mitford-Barberton and in partnership with Sven Lovan and Petter Axelsson, Odin established a new mill further north near the Chepchoine River. In 1927 Edward Josselyn, late works manager of Arthur Ransome & Co., bought out Loven and Axelsson and two years later with Leigh Norman as third partner yet another mill with up-to-date equipment was built near the Kwoitobbos River.
Two of Odin's sons, Odin and Arthur, were by then helping in the family business, and in 1930 Mount Elgon Saw Mills was registered in Uganda. The following year Leigh Norman left the mill and bought a farm near Endebess which he called 'Dunmillin'. When his friends enquired as to the origin of this unusual name, he would only look at them with a twinkle in his very blue eye and we have been left to speculate ever since!
In 1934 Edward Josselyn became the sole owner of what was by now a limited liability company, and his son Dick came out from England to learn the trade, which was a fortunate arrangement as Edward died that same year while on a business trip to Rhodesia. Since then the Mill has been run by his wife and son, but in 1937 'Tub' Roberts joined the firm as manager and in true tradition married the boss's daughter Mary.
David Le Breton: " Leigh Norman was a Kenya settler farmer at Endebess, near Kitale, in the 1930s and presumably the 1920s too. His farm was called Dunmillin, apparently because he had previously been engaged in a sawmill enterprise somewhere else in Kenya. I think he must have served in the First War and was sometimes known as either Captain or perhaps Major Norman. So my father knew him as one of the fellow soldier-settlers in that part of the District. The story is that he had built the house on the farm, in double storey style which was fairly unusual.
His wife was Molly Norman, who was a lover of classical music and a talented pianist, which is the main reason why my mother was especially friendly with her, and occasionally they used to do some recitals together. They had two children, Christopher, born 15 July 1929, and Rosamund a couple of years or so younger. . Our two families were close friends. Christopher was sent to the Pembroke House prep-school, near Gilgil. In 1939 the parents decided to "take home leave" back in Britain, but without disrupting Christopher's schooling. So they asked my mother if she would look after Christopher during the two school holidays in April and July - September. Then it turned out that there would be the second War starting in September, so the parents could not return to Kenya, so Christopher would have to continue to live with us. Leigh Norman joined up again, and was captured at Dunkirk and spent the rest of the war years in a German POW officers' prison camp.
After the War our two families remained close friends, and together with a third family a holiday house was built at the Coast near Diani, and therefore named Watatu. They all went there for the August holidays when it was the wettest time up-country."
Christopher went to Cambridge and graduated there and then applied to join the Colonial Service as an Agricultural Officer. After the usual spell at the Tropical Agriculture College in Trinidad he was posted to Tanganyika in 1952. He married Karen Falke, another Kenya resident. A few years later he left Tanganyika to go back to take over the family farm as his father decided to retire from farming and to go back and live in Scotland. Then at the time of Uhuru and the Africanisation of the settled areas he moved to South Africa.
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