Mrs. Gladys Rydon

Name ID 538

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nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Sonia Mayhew
Page Number: 2004 03 01

My Grandmother Gladys Rydon

My daughter Venetia Mayhew has discovered her great grandmother on the internet and we are all intrigued. I should love to get in touch with Alison Aitken and David.

I am the daughter of Gladys Rydon's daughter Pamela. She married my father Roddy Sword in Arusha Church in 1938. He was in Arusha with the 6 KAR. I spent the years 1956 - early 1958 out in that part of the world when I left school and spent a lot of time with my grandmother, living with her at lake Duluti and we travelled to South Africa together and a few years later back to Australia.

Her son Arthur Rydon is still alive living in Sussex. Fur would have flown if Gladys and Margot had known they were being described as sisters! I have some photos including one of the buffalo that killed David Rydon (in 1968 I think) - certainly not in 64. he was killed on his property near Ngurdoto Crater. it wasn't a national park I don't think then.

My grandmother's friend from Mars spelt his name Qel and he was from the 72nd Golden Planet Saturn flotilla. This came out in an interview she did when we were in South Africa. We travelled by sea on the Lloyd Trestino line and on reaching Durban on the return journey, some friends boarded with a newspaper like the Evening Standard and

the headlines were "SPACESHIPS FROM 600 PLANETS PATROLLING EARTH TO AVERT NEW WAR. Tanganyika woman claims dealings with Commander from Saturn ......"

I have no memories of my mother Pamela who disappeared out of my life when I was about two years old but knew David of course and Arthur well. Arthur has a son Godfrey and grand children and great children. Harold Rydon built

and owned the Safari House Hotel. His property was Ngare Sera at Usa River which is now a game lodge owned by Mike Leach. My husband and I stayed there on a recent visit in 2001 and visited Duluti also, the first time I had been back since my grandmother's death in 1964, exactly 40 years ago.

I hope to hear from you.

Sonia Mayhew (nee Sword)

Extract ID: 4845

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nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: David Hamilton
Page Number: 2008 05 16
Extract Date: 1947-1950

Arusha 1947-1950

I was intrequed to read about Gladys Rydon as my late father, Ronnie Hamilton, was her business partner and managed Ol Kokola estate on the slopes of Mt Meru between 1947-1950, when he left to take up a job in the growing sisal industry further 'up the line'.

My mother, Olivia, can clearly remember staying at Gladys' lovely home on lake Diluti and told me that her son David was a very talented artist. David lived in separate house on the estate where he had his studio.

My Ma was also the receptionist at the 'New Arusha' for a short time and had the nickname 'The Honeypot' for reasons that have never been made clear to me!

Ronnie was an ex-army major (Kings 4th, Burma and India) and chose Tanganyika after he was sent to train KAR troops in jungle warfare. I think he thought he had died and gone straight to heaven! The farm was situated at 7,500ft and the only transport that could get up there was Dad's US Army Jeep and his horses!

I was born in the European hospital in Arusha in 1948 and we went on to live near Voi and later near Korogwe, when I went to school up at Lushoto.

Of course Arusha was not Arusha without it's share of scandal and Ma came to stay with the Swaffin's as she was running away from her first husband, Eric Hunt! I imagine she and Dad met at the New Arusha and the rest, as they say, was history!!!

I last visited Arusha in 2004 when I climbed Kilimanjaro. The place was very changed and had lost its charm, but I hope to go back again within 2 years.

Kind regards, David Hamilton

Extract ID: 5658

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Johnston, Erika The other side of Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 086
Extract Date: 1950's

Gladys Rydon

Staying at Ol Orien at the time of the molasses operation, was Gladys Rydon, an Australian in her sixties, who had been one of the early pioneers in Tanganyika. Tough, practical and hardworking (she owned and ran five estates) yet full of feminine wiles, Gladys was down to earth and sensible, except in her obsession and belief in flying saucers.

She kept a suitcase ready packed under her bed for, she said, she was in communication with a character called Kwell (I earned a withering look when I ventured to ask if he had anything to do with air-sickness tablets!) from the 97th planet. He had promised her that they were going to pick her up one night in a flying saucer and take her to Mars. Albeit we were devoted to her.

Extract ID: 4458

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Johnston, Erika The other side of Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 086a
Extract Date: 1950's

Coffee stealing

Gladys was watching the molasses spraying with evident approval. It was just the sort of thing she would do to protect her own crops.

Not many months previously there had been the matter of coffee stealing on one of her plantations. Every day she pestered the District Commissioner, Arusha, for some action. In final desperation in order to get rid of her, and never dreaming she would take him seriously, he suggested that a solution might be to shoot one of the coffee stealers if caught redhanded. It might discourage the others. Gladys promptly issued her nightwatchman at the coffee factory with a gun. A few days later she appeared for instructions for the disposal of the body in the back of her car.

The stunned D.C. was most disconcerted, and a case had to be instituted against the nightwatchman. He got off with a light sentence because it was proved that the thief was armed and had threatened the nightwatchman.

During the molasses spraying, Archie and Robin shouted instructions and counter-instructions to everyone to add to the general confusion, for in the dark with only hurricane lamps to see by and people milling around with hoses, pumps and sticks, it was anything but an orderly operation. Gladys, who was a great admirer of Archie's, suddenly asked him one of those inanequestions women tend to ask at the most inopportune moment. Forgetting the hose in his hands spewing out sticky, black molasses at a high velocity, Archie turned to reply. The full force of the spray hit her on the chest. She reeled back and stepped into a deep concealed wild pig hole and almost vanished.

Poker-faced, Archie and Robin rushed to her aid, wiping as much of the molasses off her as they could. She retired to Robin's house and a bath looking not unlike a negro minstrel.

She had hardly left when Lady Morveth Benson, the wife of the owner [Con Benson] of the last farm along the line, ventured to remark that she thought it was all rather cruel and her sympathies were with the poor little birds. Archie and Robin turned on her with narrowed eyes and their hoses. She beat a hasty retreat, and was found later in Robin's sitting room with an almost empty gin bottle, playing her guitar to a rather subdued Gladys.

Extract ID: 4459

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Gray, Betty A. Beyond the Serengeti Plains

We did not stay right in Arusha

We did not stay right in Arusha, but at Lake Duluti, a few miles from the town. This lake, about a mile across, is a little gem of landscape cradled in an extinct volcano. On the rim of the crater are two houses, one belonging to our friends, the Fosbrookes, with whom we stayed, while on the opposite side was the residence of Mrs. Gladys Rydon, a large plantation owner whose hospitality attracted guests from all over the world. On our last afternoon we visited Mrs. Rydon's magnificent place. Her house extended lengthwise and led, at either end, to an elaborate series of lovely terraced gardens which I never tired of exploring. ...

Extract ID: 887

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nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Christopher Nelson
Page Number: 2008 07 22
Extract Date: 1955

Christopher Nelson ~ Arusha School 1955

Thank you for organizing this site.

I was a student at Arusha School in l955 for the January term. Being the only American at the time, I was called Hank.

My family lived only 12 miles east of Arusha in the heart of Meru country on the old German Lutheran mission estate at Makumira, so I was a day student, often riding my bike home on the tarmac after hockey practise.

My father, Anton Nelson, a Californian, was hired by Meru Cooperative Union, a group of some 4000 African coffee growers. This unusual arrangement came about at the instigation of Kirilo Japhet, one of these Meru farmers. He is mentioned elsewhere on the site in connection with the Meru Lands Case. My father had met Kirilo and his lawyer Earle Seaton at the United Nations in New York City.

Our European neighbors were the two with homes on the rim of Lake Duluti crater, the Fosbrookes and Gladys Rydon, both mentioned elsewhere on this site. Gladys was an Australian coffee estate owner and her home in view of Mt. Meru was ringed with a most beautiful flower garden. I have a photo her pouring tea on the veranda. I remember one tea in which Kirilo was in attendance. Kirilo by that time had become a rising star on the political firmament in Tanganyika. Both these strong personalities were the epitome of gracious interaction.

At Arusha School I remember fellow students Ian Fosbrooke, John Coutividis, Mary Wechsler and her brother Stephan, all mentioned in the l955 school magazine lists.

It would be fun to see a list of teachers, some of whom I've forgotten names. There was 'Lanky' Johnson, Nature Study, Mr. Morgan, algebra, Mr. Jones, French (taught this American to say 'Yes, sir'), a lovely young lady in music class who taught us to sing 'The British Grenadiers'.

I took piano lessons from Mrs. Brewster and played in the end of term recital with Carolyn Pearson.

I was on top of Mt. Meru with Mr. Morgan and the other Arusha School children.

I was in Tanganyika for 7 years, before independence.

After Arusha School I was at American schools for missionary children.

Extract ID: 5805

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Sadleir, Randal Tanzania, Journey to Republic
Page Number: 205
Extract Date: 1957

Mrs Gladys Rydon's fabulous garden

Six miles down the main tarmac road to Moshi - to the east behind the Natural Resources School at Tengeru - lay Mrs Gladys Rydon's fabulous garden overlooking Lake Duluti. It was the most beautiful garden I ever saw in East Africa.

Extract ID: 4386

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Nelson, Christopher Photos of Arusha
Extract Date: 1960

Gladys Rydon at her Lake Duluti home serving tea

Extract ID: 5861

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Nelson, Christopher Photos of Arusha
Extract Date: 1960

Mt Meru from crater rim of Lake Duluti

At Gladys Rydon's residence, with Lorraine Nelson

Extract ID: 5860

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Herne, Brian White Hunters: The golden age of African Safaris
Page Number: 204a
Extract Date: 1960~

Stan Lawrence-Brown had his office in the Safari Hotel

Stan Lawrence-Brown had his office in the Safari Hotel one hundred yards up the street from his rival, Russell Douglas. The Safari Hotel was newer, and probably fancier than the New Arusha, but it did not have the trout river frontage, lovely grounds, or the Old World charm of its rival. The Safari was a four-story rectangular box built of stone and concrete, and in its time the interior was comfortably appointed with lofty rooms. Even today, while the Safari has sunk into obscurity with the advent of newer hotels, one cannot help but notice that this large hotel has all its plumbing on the exterior of the structure, a result of an oversight by the contractors, who had forgotten to include plumbing. The hotel was owned by two aristocratic English sisters, Gladys and Margot Rydon. Both women owned prosperous coffee estates. Gladys lived in a magnificent mansion overlooking a mysterious crater lake called Duluti, seven miles east of Arusha. Margot's son, David, was killed by a buffalo near Arusha in 1964.

Extract ID: 3862

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Christ Church Arusha
Page Number: 02
Extract Date: 1964

Far Left Window - St, Michael

In loving memory of Gladys Rydon, 1964.

Donated by her son Arthur

Extract ID: 4618

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nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Alison Aitken
Page Number: 2003 08 21
Extract Date: 21 August 2003

Gladys and Margot Rydon - not sisters

My 70+ year old mother and I are taking a trip to Arusha where she grew up and so I've been looking up anything about Arusha. My mother noticed your piece called "Stan Lawrence-Brown had his office in the Safari Hotel" which mentioned Gladys and Margot Rydon and thought you might like to know the following:

Harold Rydon married Gladys first, they had three children, David who you mention, Pamela and another son Arther, who became a doctor.

Harold's second wife was Margot. She was step mother to David and the others.

The two women lived close to each other, but were not sisters.

I hope you don't mind me correcting you.

Best wishes.

Alison Aitken

Dear Alison

Thank you for your email last week about the nTZ web site, and the comments about Gladys and Margot Rydon. I have checked back to the source in Brian Herne's book, and I have quoted him verbatim, but clearly he's wrong, and I'll happily add your information to the web site when I next do an update - hopefully some time during September.

I hope you and your mother enjoy your trip to Arusha. If your mother grew up there it must have been "some time" ago, and I'm sure she will see many many changes, although the basic layout remains the same, and many landmarks still exist. Perhaps she knows the answer to a puzzle I have which is to find out when the clock tower was built, and by whom.

If she (or you) have any other memories, or photographs which you would be willing to share on the web site, I'd love to hear from you.

When do you plan to visit Arusha - I shall be passing through again during October.



Hello David,

Glad to have been of help. I shall pass your message on to my mother and I'm sure she would be delighted to help if she can. She is in her mid-70's and her memories are very bright and clear, so our trip should be fascinating. I have printed off quite a lot of the website for her and she knows or knew so many of the people mentioned.

We will be in Tanzania from mid-October and though we are travelling a bit we are staying for a night or two at the beginning, middle and end of our trip at Moivaro near Arusha. If it fitted into your programme and ours I'm sure we would be pleased to meet up with you.

I'll ask about the clock tower and photographs/memories, though sometimes these are better sparked by chatting about things, or asking questions which light a spark.

Best wishes.


Extract ID: 4482