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Name: WELLS, Hugh Thompson OBE

Nee: cousin of Leonard Colling Collings-Wells

Birth Date: 19 Dec 1884

Death Date: 19 Jan 1968 Kiambu

First Date: 1912 - originally from Chelmsford

Last Date: 1968

Profession: Farmer and planter

Area: Kabiro Bano Estate Kiambu

Married: In Samford, Suffolk 1927 Sylvia Mary 'Tilly' Fison b. 19 June 1895 Stutton, Suffolk, d. 21 June 1987 Sudbury

Children: David

Book Reference: Gillett, Golf, Red 25, Red 31, Hut, EAMR, Curtis, Bur, Kiambu Scrapbook, Gazette, Barnes

War Service: WW1 with EAMR - A Sqdn. 11/9/14 - 7/1/15

General Information:

Curtis - p. 71 - 'Help with Enquiries at Kiambu' - There were plenty of witchdoctors around Upper Kiambu in 1912. I once had some clothes stolen. I called in a witchdoctor who went round making enquiries of all the men who had worked around the house and they were made to sit in a row. The witchdoctor then took a lizard and put it in turn on each man's lips. When he got to the guilty one the lizard bit him. The witchdoctor and I then went to the man's hut where the stolen goods were found.
Kiambu Scrapbook - 'When I first arrived in Upper Kiambu in 1912, nobody knew what to plant; potatoes, wattle, coffee, etc. There was only a bad road of access through the farm, workers were very difficult to get so I recruited some Maragoli to make this road. There was no clinic or hospital at Kiambu so all patients had to be treated on the farm. Laundry was done by the waterfall and shirts, sheets etc. had to be washed by beating them on the stones. It was sometimes three weeks before I saw another white man. There was a Mr Johnson living on Kacharoba who used to come over to visit me and vice versa for Sunday lunch. We walked and to get there had to go through bush 8 feet tall. ……….. We never locked or even shut our doors till after the first war …… The only things that came in were jackal. The road to Kiambu used to be a grass track so bad that you couldn't even get a bicycle along it. The track was already there in 1912. There were lions and eland in the Karura Forest. The meals at the farm were varied with bananas and custard or custard and bananas. Eggs of a sort were plentiful though small, at 30 for one Rupee. They had to be tested in water one by one before buying them. Kiambu Scrapbook - 'The house on Kabiro in Upper Kiambu bought by Mr H.T. Wells in 1912, was built by Mr Kell at a much earlier date, of hand-made, fire-baked bricks. Unfortunately, it is no longer in existence.
Kiambu Scrapbook - Water - Mr H.T. Wells wrote of his problems in 1912:- "Not having any corrugated iron on the roof of the rondavels, the water used to have to be carried in debbies from a spring about half a mile away. A safari of women did this every morning. After signing the tickets of all the labourers who came to work and sending them off to their allotted tasks, I returned to my rondavel to have a shave. The water safari of women had, by this time, returned and they spent their time gazing at me through the window to watch me shave, satisfying their curiosity. They were told that if they wanted a close look at me, they could do so at 4 p.m. when work was finished. In the meantime, they must bring up another safari of water."
Kiambu Scrapbook - The first Motor Bicycles, which were Douglases, were introduced into Kenya in 1913 and Mr H.T. Wells was the first to own one in Kiambu. He also must have been among the first to own a motor car as he certainly had one in 1913
Kiambu Scrapbook - According to Mr H.T. Wells, who was President of the Club [Kiambu] for four years, a one-room mud and wattle clubhouse was built in 1913 and measured 20ft by 15. Kiambu Scrapbook - Mr H.T. Wells, another well-loved coffee farmer, renowned for his public work and his interest in all forms of sport, came to Kenya in 1912 and bought Kabiro from Mr Kell, which he proceeded to develop fully for coffee. An enthusiastic polo player, he was captain of the Kiambu team during the twenties, and served on the Nairobi District Council (later the Nairobi County Council) for 26 years - he was its Chairman from 1941-47 - and was awarded an OBE for his distinguished public work. His cousin, Lt-Col. L. Collings Wells followed him to Kenya and bought Kamundu, now owned by Sasini …. On the whole, coffee development in Upper Kiambu was still at a comparatively experimental stage when Mr Wells arrived in 1912; he remembered the area as chiefly under wattle or the original forest, with only a grass track leading to it from the township through the Kikuyu Reserve. He recalled giving a lunch party on Kabiro in 1913, to show some new-comers from Lower Kiambu what ripe coffee looked like - this must have been from the 5 acres planted by Mr Kell.
Mr H.T. Wells … returning from the war and after an attempt to grow coffee in Uganda, bought the farm adjoining Kabiro known as Bano, not then under coffee but originally owned by a retired Naval Commander. It is said that Bano was so called from the Commander's nickname among the Africans; a stickler for discipline but no Swahili expert, he had insisted on their addressing him as "Bwana" in Naval fashion several times in one sentence - but he himself pronounced it "Bano"! Mr Wells lived on Bano until his death in January 1968.
Gazette - 7/4/15 - Liable for Jury service, Kiambu - H. Thompson Wells, Kamundu, Kiambu
Barnes - St. Paul's Church, Kiambu Cemetery - Hugh Thompson Wells, OBE, born 19th December 1884, died 19th January 1968.
Gazette 1/8/1913 - Dissolution of Partnership - Notice is hereby given that the partnership subsisting between us the undersigned Frank Gerald Wingate Wright; William Maule Reginald Wingate and Hugh Thompson Wells, carrying on business as contractors at Nairobi under the style or firm of Wright, Wingate and Wells has this day been dissolved by mutual consent.
Hut - 1st motorcycle Douglas
Gazette 6 Dec 1938 Kiambu Voters List
President of Kiambu Golf Club 1935-1938. Played in the EA Amateur Golf Championship in 1933.
Gazette 9 Feb 1968 probate
1939 England and Wales Register living with wife in Chelmsford as 'coffee planter Kenya'

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