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Name: PRESTON, Ronald Owen (Senior)

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Nee: son of David Preston and Emma Jane

Birth Date: 17 Dec 1867 Bycullah, Bombay, India

Death Date: 7 June 1952 Nairobi

Nationality: British

First Date: 1897 from India

Last Date: 1952

Profession: Construction Engineer with Uganda Railway. After leaving Railway he worked in a Draper's store in Nairobi. On retirement became an author of some ability

Area: Nairobi, Nakuru, 1930 Box 807, Nairobi, Kisumu

Married: 1. Florence Clotilda Daly b. 28 Feb 1872 Madras, India, d. 10 Nov 1932 Bangalore 2. 1928 Sophie Irma Georges

Children: 1. Ronald Owen 'Ralph' (18.8.1892 Bellary, India-14 Mar 1957); Leon; Florence Emma Pearl (6 Sep 1911 Nairobi) 2. Victor Robert (1928-2 Oct 1998 Nairobi); June Mary (1932)

Author: 'The Genesis of Kenya Colony', 'Kenya Easy Swahili', 'Descending the Great Rift Valley', 'War Tonic', 'Oriental Nairobi', 'Kenya Easy Calculator', other articles for magazines.

Book Reference: Gillett, SE, Cuckoo, Genesis, Permanent Way, Land 1903, KAD, Red 25, Red 31, Hut, North, Curtis, Playne, Drumkey, Red 22, Land, EAHB 1906, Gazette, Barnes, Leader14, Chandler, Red Book 1912

General Information:

SE - R.O. Preston - Oct 1908
Cuckoo - Mrs Preston drove home the final key in the railway at Port Florence, on December 20, 1901. She had accompanied her husband all the way, sharing in his many hectic adventures, hardships and strenuous life, and seeing the thing through to its conclusion. It was only fitting that this last act in construction should have been delegated to her. .......... story of "Plain of Skulls" below the escarpment towards Naivasha, and runaway trains (p.334/5)  
Land Grant 1903 - R.O. Preston - Homestead, about 10 acres - Near Nairobi - Apl. 27 - 99 years leasehold   
KAD 1922 - Committee Member, Theosophical Society
Curtis - p. 80 - 'From Descending the Great Rift Valley' by R.O. Preston
Playne - The Exchange, Nairobi - When the construction of the Uganda Railway was started in 1897, to Mr R.O. Preston, who came from India, was deputed the laying of the rails. He carried the same through, mile by mile, from the coast to Lake Victoria Nyanza [sic], after having been 5 years under canvas. The Lake was reached in December 1901. Resigning from the Railway in 1905, he settled in Nairobi and built ten houses, six of which are still owned by him, including a private residence, "Floette Villa", in Parklands. He also acquired 3 5-acre plots in Parklands and 3 building plots in town, and a plot on the shores of Lake Naivasha for the purpose of starting boat and yacht building. Mr Preston has lately invested in a farm of 1320 acres at Athi River, where he is experimenting with ostriches and sisal. In 1907 Mr Preston opened the "Exchange", Nairobi, dealing in stocks and shares, the buying and selling of land, and the carrying on of an estate and house agency, with which is combined the dealing in guns, rifles, ammunition, cycles, sporting goods, and provisions.
Drumkey 1909 - Estate Agent - Nairobi
Red 22 - R.O. Preston, Hardinge Street, Nairobi - Drapers, Ladies' & Childrens' Outfitters, Sports Goods
Land 1909 - R.O. Preston - Buildings, 1.25 acres - Naivasha Lake - 11/2/07 - Leasehold for 25 years from 1/3/07 - Registered 11/4/10
Land - 1910 - Ronald O. Preston - Agricultural and Grazing, 1014.3 acres - Athi River - 9/7/09 - Leasehold under Occupation Licence from 2 to 99 years from 1/7/10 - Registered 5/8/10
Land - 1910 - Agricultural, 322.5 acres - Athi River - Homestead, freehold - Registered 18/8/10
Gazette - 7/4/15 - Liable for Jury service, Nairobi District - R.O. Preston (Sen), Merchant
North - Permanent Way Inspector, Kikuyu Aug 1904; Listed as new member of the Settlers Association, Nairobi 14/1/1905; Son, Ronald Owen (b. 18/8/1892) enrolled at Uganda Railway School, Nairobi 14/3/1904
Barnes - Nairobi City Park Cemetery - Ronald Owen Preston, died 7 Jun 1952 aged 85
Chandler - Ronald Preston and his older sister were abandoned at an orphanage in India in the 1870s. Fortunately his sister married a hard-working, decent British soldier who took it upon himself to educate his little orphaned brother-in-law. Trained as an engineer, Ronald Preston worked on the Madras Harbour and the Godavari Bridge until the opportunity came to go to Africa. …………………….. [lots more] Lauded for his success, Preston decided to settle in his adopted country. He bought a farm in the highlands near Nairobi and lived out his life there in relative quiet.
Red Book 1912 - R.O. Preston - Nairobi
Gazette - 12/11/1919 - Register of Voters - Nairobi, North Area - Ronald Owen Preston - Merchant, Salisbury Road
Mills Norfolk - Resigning from the railway in 1905 Ronald Preston remained in British Eaast Africa, invested in the residential property market in Nairobi, and acquired land in Naivasha for the purposes of starting boat and yacht building. He also took a 1320-acre farm in Athi River where he experimented with ostriches and sisal. In 1907, Preston opened the 'Exchange', dealing in stocks and shares, real estate and general provisions.
Following the death of his first wife, Ronald met his second wife Sophie Irma Georges whilst on holiday in Seychelles in 1928 with whom he had two children, Victor Robert Roch Preston, born 21 October 1928 and Juns Mary Claire Springer born on 4 June 1932.
In 1929 Preston purchased a commercial plot at Westlands, Nairobi and constructed a square, single storey, corrugated iron shop on wooden piles and filled it with various articles of ladies clothing. However the shop was not patronised by the European ladies of the day as his selection of garments, which were inclined to be Victorian; hats, under clothing, stockings etc. Were more suitable for the first decade of the century rather than the late twenties.
In 1948 he wrote a book 'The Genesis of Kenya Colony' compiled from his diaries.
Mills - Ronald Owen Preston was born in India on 17 December 1867 whilst his father David was employed with the Public Works Department in Karachi. David Preston had met and married Emma Jane with whom they produced their first child, Annette May, in 1864.
In 1878, whilst resident back in Liverpool England, Ronald's father inexplicably disappeared and his mother died leaving Ronald, aged 11 and Annette, aged 14, orphaned. They were subsequently shipped back to India, Ronald to a Civil Orphan Asylum in Madras where he remained until he was 20 years old.
Ronald Preston married Florence (nee Clotilda) the daughter of his orphanage matron and had three children, Ralph, who would operate a mobile cinema business taking films round the Indian countryside and exhibiting them in the small townships, another son Leon and a daughter Pearl.
Preston came to British East Africa from India in 1897 as construction engineer in charge of plate laying with the Uganda Railway. He disembarked at Kilindini on 2 February with the task of laying 581 miles of track over some of the most difficult terrain ever encountered. His wife Florence who accompanied him all the way living under canvas suffering the most incredible hardships and dangers, drove in the last spike on 19 December 1901 at 4 o'clock in the afternoon at Port Florence on the Kavirondo Gulf, todays Kisumu.
It was Preston who described Mile 326 (Nairobi) as 'a bleak, swampy stretch of soppy landscape, windswept, devoid of human habitation of any sort, the resort of thousands of wild animals of every species.'
Web - Ronald resigned in 1905 and went into residential property market in Nairobi. He also acquired land in Naivasha and a farm on Athi River. In 1907, he opened 'Exchange' dealing with stocks, shares and real estate. After death of Florence, he married SOPHIE IRMA GEORGES in 1928, and they had 2 children, VICTOR ROBERT(21.10.1928) and JUNE MARY(4.6.1932). In 1929, Ronald opened a 'R O PRESTON' ladies shop in Westlands, Nairobi, but it was a failure. R O Preston died in 1952, aged 86, in Nairobi, Kenya.

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