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Name: ROBERTS, David Owen 'Robby'

image of individualimage of individual

Birth Date: 10.9.1871 Birmingham

Death Date: 2.4.1915 Voi, blackwater fever

Nationality: British

First Date: 1897

Last Date: 1915

Profession: Asst. Engineer. Gailey & Roberts

Area: Nairobi, 1920 Ruiru Mills, 'Ngewe' Ruiru

Married: In Warwickshire 1909 Gladys Edith Annie Chaplin b. 15 Sep 1879 London, d. 9 July 1946 Ruiru (later m. James Hamilton Gailey 1870-1938)

Children: Arthur Owen (1901)

Book Reference: HBEA, EAHB 1905, EAS, Hut, North, Playne, CWGC, Macmillan, EA Diary 1903, Drumkey, Land, Kiambu Scrapbook, EA & Rhodesia, Advertiser, EAHB 1906, Gazette, Harmony, EAHB 1907, All Saints, Barnes, Red Book 1912

General Information:

North - Uganda Railway - Junior Asst. Engineer; Senior Asst. Engineer; founding partner of the firm of Gailey & Roberts, Nairobi
Playne - Gailey and Roberts - "Enterprise is the keystone of success." Messrs Gailey and Roberts recognised this when, early in 1904, they established themselves as retail ironmongers and licensed surveyors. They had previously come to BEA under the Foreign Office, on railway construction, as executive engineers, and after leaving the railway they started as direct importers. .......... The firm occupies two plots in town and one plot on the railway line. Mr Allan Tompson and Mr R. Handcock came in as partners in 1905. The farmer can obtain anything from this firm for agricultural purposes, as they have, together with the Nairobi Engineering Works, practically the sole monopoly in that line. The firm also acts as bankers' agents etc. ........ At present they employ 8 Europeans and several Indians and natives. Buildings are contracted for by the fiirm, and easy terms of payment can be arranged. Irrigation works are also carried out, both Messrs Gailey and Roberts having had considerable practical experience in this direction. Mr Gailey, at the time of writing, is in charge of the Kilindini Harbour Extension.
Playne - The 'Nairobi News' - May 1905 - The plant was put up to auction and was purchased by Mr Frank Watkins and by Messrs Newland, Tarlton & Co. who, under the editorship of Mr Newland, brought out the 'Times of East Africa' on the 22nd of July 1905. A company, under the style of the 'Times Printing and Publishing Company,' was then floated, having as directors Mr Frank Watkins (managing director), Lord Delamere, Messrs R. Diespecker, J.B. Ellis, D.O. Roberts, and Douglas Gray.
CWGC - Assistant Engineer, EA Railways who died on Friday, 2nd April 1915. Age 43. Husband of Gladys E Roberts, of "Ngewe," Ruiru. Gladys is buried next to him in Nbi South cem.
Macmillan - 1930 - The business of Messrs Gailey & Roberts Ltd., was started in 1904 by Major J.H. Gailey who played a very important part in the construction of the Kenya-Uganda Railway. In 1921 the firm employed 11 Europeans; and the fact that they now employ nearly 80 Europeans is sufficiently indicative of the expansion to which their business has attained. ….. Major Gailey was joined in partnership in the early days by Mr D.O. Roberts, who died in 1916. In 1924 the firm was formed into a private limited company, with Major Gailey as Chairman, Mr G.E. Ramsay, Managing Director, and Mr A.L. Gladwell as General Manager
Drumkey 1909 - Member of Municipal Committee, Nairobi
Land - 1909 - D.O. Roberts - Residential, 2.83 acres, Parklands, 14-7-06, Registered 12-7-07
Kiambu Scrapbook - Ruiru - At the junction of the Ruiru and Kamothai Rivers is Ruiru Mills Estate, now owned by Sasini, which then belonged to Mrs Roberts and was developed for coffee well before 1914. Mrs Roberts' husband was in partnership with Major Gailey in the firm of Gailey & Roberts; the Major in an amusing article in the East African Standard of September 8th 1939, wrote that the firm was founded in 1904, "more as joke than anything else" and was nicknamed "Gaily They Rob Us". Mr George Ramsay, the son of another partner in the firm …. Remembers being taken out to the Roberts' farm as a child before the first war, and meeting the Borwick family, whose farm, Mutundu, was definitely under coffee on the other side of the river. He thinks that the present Jacaranda was then owned by Mr A.L.H. Townsend and also had coffee on it.
Mr Roberts died during the first war and later, his widow married Major Gailey; at this period she bought two other farms on the Ruiru River, one of them being Jacaranda, which she sold to the Coffee Research Team in 1944 at a very generous price. It is now the Headquarters of the Coffee Research Foundation.
EA & Rhodesia - 15/4/1954 - The Story of Gailey & Roberts - Two young men sat in the light of a hurricane lamp in a tiny shack, one of a hundred or more that made up the shanty town of Nairobi in 1904. They were James Hamilton Gailey and D.O. Roberts, two young railway engineers, heavily moustached in the Edwardian style - survivors who had helped drive a railway from the Indian Ocean to the shores of Lake Victoria …….. Railway … the work was still in its early stages when young Gailey arrived from Britain to join the railway as a surveyor. ……
In 1897 Robby Roberts came to join the survey staff ….. Completed their contracts with the railway and went into partnership as estate agents and surveyors. They had no office; they did their business in the lobby of Nairobi's only hotel. Gailey and Roberts became acknowledged experts. "If you want land, see Gailey. If you want to know where to settle, ask Roberts." [much more]
Land 1909 - D.O. Roberts - Buildings, 4 acres (extension) - Nairobi River - 4/9/06 - Leasehold for 99 years from 23/7/03 - Registered 17/6/10
Advertiser - 12/6/1908 - Capt. Nivison's farm sold at auction £320 to Mr Roberts of Gailey & Roberts (a bargain - depressed market)
Gazette - 7/4/15 - Liable for Jury service, Kiambu - D.O. Roberts, Ruiru
Member of Lodge Harmony - Initiated 3/7/05, age 33, Engineer, Nairobi, died 1/4/15
All Saints - Memorial - Railway Engineer - 10-9-1871 - died at Voi 2-4-1915
Barnes - Nairobi South Cemetery - D.O. Roberts, buried 3 Apr 1915, 1st husband of Mrs Gailey
Red Book 1912 - D.O. Roberts - Kyambu
The African Standard - 26-2-1903 - Invited to the wedding of H.R. Phelips & Miss Jacquette Edith Lambe in Mombasa
North - From Bodmin; UK appt. as Junior Asst. Engineer 24/9/1897; arr. Mombasa from Europe 29/10/1897; Asst. Engineer with Maintenance Division resident at Msongoleni 23/2/1899; Appt. Senior Asst. Engineer 1/7/1899; informed that no position available on permanent staff of opened line but retained for 6 months to complete construction work still in progress, Senior Asst Engineer 23/3/1903; transferred from Nairobi to Muhoroni 22/4/1903; List of Officers who have done good Service during the Construction of the Railway …. Senior Asst. Engineer' OG Notice 1/12/1903; Licensed to practice as Surveyor with J.H. Gailey, Govt. Road, Nairobi 20/2/1904; Public Officers Game Licence Nairobi April - June 1905; Member of the Nairobi Mounted Section of the EAP Volunteer Reserve June 1905; 1906 Nairobi

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