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Name: RIMINGTON, Geoffrey Brisco 'Rim' MC (Capt.)

Nee: son of George Arthur Rimington

Birth Date: 12 Mar 1891 Wimbledon

Death Date: 9 May 1952 Nanyuki

First Date: 1920

Last Date: 1952

Profession: DC at Isiolo in 1937 - said to have trained a giraffe to be saddled and ridden, and an ostrich to draw a cart. Appointed a DC in 1920. DC at Voi in 1939

Area: Isiolo, Nairobi, Voi, Kisii 1923, 1922 Meru, 1925 S. Kavirondo, 1930 Lokitaung, 1949 Nanyuki, 1922 Nyeri

Married: Frances Emily Hill Thomas b. 20 Dec 1890, d. 27 Dec 1963 Whitby

Children: Geoffrey P. (1918 Penrith-2013); Diana B. (1922); Felicity P. (1948 Kenya); one other dau

Book Reference: Midday Sun, EAWL, Staff 39, Gethin, KAD, Red 25, Red 31, Hut, Colonial, mini-SITREP XIV, EA & Rhodesia, Red 22, Barnes, Dominion, Nicholls, Chandler

War Service: Canadian Cavalry Brigade

School: Bradfield College, Berks

General Information:

'He lived on the old polo ground, where the new European Hospital was later built. He taught riding. He had trained zebras for riding and for polo. But when he rode his zebra on to the polo field the polo ponies galloped off!' Source:- Mrs P. Tomalin
"On leaving school, he went to Canada where he eventually joined the British Columbia Provincial Police (later the Canadian Mounties). At the outbreak of WW1, he enlisted in Lord Strathcona's Horse and came to England with the first Canadian Contingent. He saw active service as a Corporal in the 1st Dragoon Guards, when he was mentioned in despatches and granted a Commission for services in the field.
He was then transferred to Provost duties and was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and devotion to duty in action. Promoted to Captain in Traffic Control, and for a short time as Liaison Officer between the British and French Armies, he ended the war as Staff Captain Deputy Asst. Provost Marshal, 24th Division Rhine Army.
On demobilisation, he sat for, and passed the Civil Service Law and Administration exams and was appointed as a District Administrative Officer in Kenya, EA. On arriving at Mombasa, the first person Rimington recognised was the man he had been detailed to arrest whilst serving with the police in Canada. The story has it that he pursued this man right across Canada from west to east but never managed to catch up with him. He eventually gave Rimington the slip by crossing the border into America. However, true to tradition that the Mounties always got their man in the end, Rimington felt exonerated, even though it had taken him 6 years to do it! Both had survived the war in France and both drank to the occasion over a bar in Mombasa!
In Nairobi, he was told that he had been posted to Meru. As a raw recruit, he asked how he got there and was told "On your flat feet, how else?" He was issued with some safari equipment, tent and chop-box and like all old soldiers, he managed to scrounge an ox-waggon and set off for Meru on a slightly more comfortable journey than had been mapped out for him! It so happened that he might never have made it, in that he missed being ambushed by arriving at Meru one day earlier than expected.
As an Asst. District Officer, his main job was to help the District Commissioner - the Shauri Bwana - sort out problems, collect taxes and build roads. Most of his time was spent building bridges and making the original twisty road from Meru to Embu. Whilst here, he studied and passed the main Legal exam with distinction and became a Senior Magistrate in the Territory and spent a lot of time on safari in the out-districts of the Uaso Gishu and Kitui hearing court cases and collecting taxes.
On returning from his first home leave, he was posted to Kisumu for a year and was then sent to take over Kisii early in 1924. The family travelled from Kisumu to Kendu Bay with staff and goods in two native fishing dhows and from there by ox-waggon up to Kisii. The house had been unoccupied for some time except by wild bees and snakes, and the front door literally fell off its hinges as the frame had been eaten by white ants.
In March 1927, Rimington was posted to Thika as the first District Commissioner for the area and at that time it covered part of Fort Hall, Kiambu and Machakos Districts. Once again most of his time was spent on hearing court cases, collecting arrears of taxes, and on improving roads and the newly formed township. Whilst there, news came in that there was a pitched battle going on between the Waembu and the Wanyeri just south of Karatina. Rimington took 6 askaris mounted on mules to establish the peace. Arriving at scene of the troubles, he found several warriors on both sides had been killed  and that the two tribes were fighting for possession of the very fertile 3 mile wide valley. Both tribes claimed the valley as theirs.
Rimington asked the chiefs and elders to gather under a very large fig tree in the middle of the valley to discuss the problem. After hearing complaints from both sides, he suggested, and they agreed that the valley should be divided in two. He then told them that the best way to mark the division was to build a road down the middle of the valley and that instead of fighting, the warriors would use their energy to build the road. This stretch of the road went from the foot of Karatina Pole-Pole hill in a straight line for about 20 miles in the direction of Sagana, and for many years afterwards was always known as 'Rim's Road', and was marked as such on all the old maps.
Later in May 1928, Rim was asked to go up to Lokitang to help suppress the border raids by the Merille tribes in the Lodwar area of N. Turkana. It had been reported that some Turkana had been killed and protection had been asked for whilst grazing their stock. He had been out on patrol with a small detachment of KAR for some days and never met up with the Merille but he still kept getting reports from all directions of them raiding the Turkana, killing some and driving off the stock. Following up the reports and trying to make contact with the Merille became virtually impossible. The Merille knew that orders had been given to the KAR not to be on the offensive and so they revelled in their tip-and-run raids.
To outwit this goose chase, Rim decided to use a herd of goats and their Turkana owners as a decoy and lie up in wait for the Merille to raid. Several days passed and he was just about to give up when some Merille were seen to be approaching. The party was surrounded and challenged, and according to the instructions ordered back over the border. They agreed they were out of bounds but said they intended to continue so and gave the KAR a goat to appease them. The position had become quite impossible to control, and it was not until permission was given to patrol the border, that the Merille were stopped crossing the border and raiding the stock.
During 1930, Rim was sent to Kabarnet to take over Baringo District, and in 1933 he was posted to Kapenguria. It was here, during his free time, that he started to keep and tame wild animals. His interest was first aroused when a young chimpanzee was brought into the boma by an African. It was very young and looked none too well - so Rim took it into his house and nursed it fit again. He next acquired an ostrich, which he eventually trained to ride and even shafted in a two-wheeled buggy, and also a young abandoned giraffe. All three became great friends. It was here that one VIP was lost for some time and was eventually found in the little house down the garden path with "Buni" the ostrich standing guard outside. It was a favourite game, that "Buni" used to play with Rim, pecking the brass door knob every time he opened and shut the door. Every time the VIP tried to get out of the little house, the ostrich of course pecked the knob and the VIP being none too certain of the ostrich's intention, preferred to stay inside until rescued!
The ostrich unfortunately died and the giraffe was rehabilitated to the wild, whilst Katalina the Chimp accompanied Rim to Malindi in 1935, where she was taught many tricks besides dressing up for a tea party and riding a tricycle. She then went to England on home leave with him in 1936 and survived the severe winter at the family home in Cumberland. After many complaints about "Apes at Tynefield", Katalina was eventually given to Hastings zoo where she lived for many years.
On return from leave he was posted to Isiolo, where his interest once again turned to animals. The first was a Grévy Zebra which he broke to the saddle. The training of a Grévy is not as easy as training a Burchell (many have been trained), so it was quite a feat when he took the Grévy to play polo at Nanyuki club. Unfortunately all the other polo ponies did not like the look of Zeb and shied off, leaving Rim and Zeb to score as many goals as they liked.
The Club afterwards passed a rule banning all Zebras on the polo field!! Another young giraffe then joined the stable and also a grevit monkey called Kim. Kim used to ride Twiga all over the place and when sufficiently old enough, Twiga was broken to the saddle and ridden by Rim and the toto looking after the animals. Another first time feat.
The Zoo went with Rim to Wajir when he was posted there in 1937. It was here that he formed the first askari camel patrol for the area. This greatly improved the speed with which the area could be patrolled. Whilst here, he acquired his second and most famous chimpanzee called Lucy. Lucy was younger and more intelligent to train than Katalina. She moved to Mombasa in 1938 when Rim was posted there. Lucy did all the usual tricks like dressing, having tea parties and barazas with the elders at court, riding tricycles but she also learnt how to type her name. Later, Jeroge the Colobus monkey, Sudi the terrier bitch, Tom the cat, Mr Ghandi the bush monkey, joined the menagerie and Lucy used to take them all for a ride in two small box carts attached to the back of her tricycle. On the end was the Parrot who acted the part of the guard!!
Six months later, Rim was posted to Voi and 18 months after that he resigned from the service to join the African Colonial Forces at the outbreak of WW2. He became the Transport Officer in charge of the Pack Mule Company of the Royal Army Service Corps in Ethiopia.
A year later he was invalided out of the Army and based himself at Nanyuki. His interest in animals was rekindled when asked by the Zoological Society to catch wild animals for the American and European Zoos. In 1º942, when this project came to an end, he started a small riding school which he eventually moved to Nairobi in 1944. He spent the next 5 years teaching the Army and the school children to ride. Before Rim died on 9 May 1952, he was awarded a Fellowship of the Zoological Society for his work with animals, and Lucy, the famous chimpanzee, to this day can be seen in the Coryndon Museum in Nairobi.            
Gethin - 1923 - Kisii -  A new DO arrived by the name of Rimington with a wife and small son. ....... During his tour in Kisii Crampton bought a Dodge car, and as he was fond of Club life, he decided it was necessary to build a road from Kisii to Kisumu, so he could go on weekends to the Kisumu Club. Rimington was given the job of building the road as far as the Sondu, where it would connect with a track already in existence. The present road from Oyugis was Rimington's survey, over which he constructed the road, or rather most of it, which is still in existence in the year 1957. When Rimington had been some two months on the job Crampton sent for him and enquired why the road was not finished, which Rimington considered to be unreasonable as he had some 30 miles to make passable for Crampton's car. Rimington lost his temper and told Crampton he had better get out and make his own bloody road, instead of sitting on his bottom in Kisii doing nothing. This ended in Rimington being transferred to another District.
mini-SITREP XIV - article by James Paten Cooper ..... early in WW2 ..... Voi ...... the DC was one of those African characters of slight eccentricity called Rimington, known to his friends as 'Bloody Rim' owing to his language and favourite adjective. I handed over the despatch. He opened the two envelopes, gave a quick glance and exploded with "Bloody idiots, I had one of those a week ago: done it all: show you later." After breakfast he said "Ever seen a baboon type its bloody name?" I wasn't certain whether he was referring to an animal or one of his staff but I said I had not. He lead me into his office, the outer one with an African clerk and one of those old fashioned high stools in front of a table with a typewriter. Rimington called his orderly who entered leading a baboon on a chain. The baboon climbed onto the stool and with some persuasion typed a few letters but was clearly not concentrating. ........ (more)
East Africa & Rhodesia - 29/5/52 - Mr Geoffrey Brisco Rimington, MC, FZS, who has died in Kenya at the age of 60, was not only well known as an administrative officer and magistrate until his retirement just before the recent war, but his remarkable powers of domesticating wild animals became something of a legend.
When he joined the Kenya Administration at 29, he had already served in the Canadian Police for 6 years. Throughout the 1914-18 war he served first with Lord Strathcona's Horse and then as a commissioned officer in the 1st (King's) Dragoon Guards. He was mentioned in dispatches and won the MC. His Kenya service was varied, ranging from Meru, Nairobi, Kisumu, and Thika to Eldoret, Malindi and Mombasa, and following retirement he formed and commanded the Pack Animal Transport Corps for the Ethiopian campaign of 1940-41.
For 3 years after 1944 he was proprietor of a Nairobi riding school. Rimington's extraordinary way with animals was never better demonstrated than in his training of a zebra as a polo pony and an ostrich to pull a rickshaw! "Lucy," the chimpanzee, was claimed as the only animal in the world able to type its name, and boasted the additional accomplishment of passable table manners; there was "fesi" the hyaena; the giraffe which Mr Rimington rode; and finally, in Mombasa, a daily promenade in which Lucy, on a tricycle, pulled a truck bearing a cat, dog, and a parrot. Many illustrated articles in Country Life, Field, etc, bore testimony to their author's accomplishments in this unusual hobby, and he also wrote books on riding. A keen sportsman, he was adept at polo and tennis in particular. He had been a member of the Nairobi Club for over 30 years. He is survived by Mrs Rimington, one son and 3 daughters
Dominion - District Officer - 1930
Barnes Nanyuki Cemetery - Plot F16 Captain / G B / Rimmington M.C. / born 12th March 1891 / died 9th May 1951 [this is the date on the gravestone, but the Daily Telegraph death notice and the National Probate Calendar confirm the year was 1952.]
Askwith 1 - Rim, as he was known to everyone, was a great animal lover - in fact he was a genius at taming wild animals and birds and teaching them tricks. Consequently, the house and buildings were full of birds and beasts of every kind. There were a couple of chimpanzees who drank from cups and ate off plates when they were not casting them on the floor like impatient children. There were parrots who hopped from chair to chair and made messes on the mats. The verandahs were filled with cages where creatures of every kind twittered or chattered. In the yard a zebra was stabled, and this Rim, who was an excellent horseman, had managed to break in.
He used to ride it down to the trading centre to the astonishment of the people who had come in to do their shopping. Later on he acquired an ostrich which he also succeeded in saddling and riding. With its wings flapping and rolling from side to side it must have looked like a fat old Victorian lady running for a bus as they scampered across the football pitch.
Gazette 21/7/1920 - Arrived on 1st Appointment - Asst. District Commissioner - 10/7/1920
KAD 1922 - Administration Cadet, Meru

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