The K.U.R & H.
By Tojo frampton
I have two fond memories of the K.U.R&H, Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours. The train from Nairobi to Mombasa in the 1950s left at 4pm. It was a party occasion, many Kenya Settlers turned up whether travelling or not. Drinks on the platform and much hilarity until with a fanfare the train pulled out of the station.
I was getting married at St Mark’s church, Sclaters Road on the 12th June 1954. My army railway warrant for my leave (honeymoon) at the Sinbad Hotel, Malindi, had to be upgraded to a 1st class ticket and one for my bride. On presenting my warrant the Indian clerk gave me two tickets stamped NMC. I thought this was something to do with the military and gave it no further thought.
After all the stress of the wedding etc the great moment came when we all went down to the railway station, but the ticket collector took one look at my tickets and asked me to wait to one side! I must say I was pretty freaked out, most of 89 Squadron were living it up at my expense on the platform while I, the hero of the piece, was waiting in the wings.
The train pulled in to the platform, steam flew and whistles blew, I pushed forward to the guard but he was having none of it, “Bwana must wait.” The train started to pull out, panic stations, I dragged my bride onto the platform but the guard held me back – the train stopped – at the rear was a gorgeous new coach in blue and silver. We were handed up the step into the luxurious interior complete with double bed and on-suite bathroom.
“NMC” stood for NEWLY MARRIED COUPLE!
At Mackinnon Road, about 50 miles from Mombasa, there was a railway halt where the travellers could leave their coach and walk down the platform to the restaurant car for breakfast. There was no corridor in those days. A troop of 89 Survey Squadron was engaged in survey operations in preparation for a new Military Camp which was to be built at Mackinnon Road. Conditions were pretty grim, the food was awful and the trick was to report dental sick. You were given a railway warrant from Mac Road to Mombasa for the day trip to the dentist.
Carefully waiting for the Kenya Settlers to start walking down the platform for breakfast, you infiltrated into their midst, gave the ticket collector the slip in the bustling crowd and boarded the restaurant car. Thus ensued what to us was a veritable banquet, and second helpings were encouraged by the obliging waiters. Wonderful tea and toast to finish up with all the way to Mombasa station – heaven!
I still have the receipt for my 10 day honeymoon at the Sinbad Hotel, £47.00! Look it up in the FarAway Places brochure, its now about £2000 per week!