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Mbeya School 1955-1959

Started by Anne Smithyman, 24 July, 2009, 14:33

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Simon Watson

Hi Mike,

No,not the Samosas, my Mother's bridge parties!!


Andy Mackay

Jambo David,

Yep, I remember the propellers we made from balsa wood. We also made origami 'quackers' out of thin card and went around catching bumble-bees in them.We had competitions on who could catch the most. Roller skates were the thing, though, especially a good pair of 'Jacko-skates'. We also used to pinch guavas from the orchard - they were delicious. Somosas were a delicacy - especially those in Dodoma. I have never had any since that were equal - except some in Nairobi when I was there on holiday.



27 August, 2010, 13:34 #17 Last Edit: 29 June, 2013, 19:56 by Hilly
Gosh David, I had forgotten about the wooden propellers. I watched them being made in the small workshop near the tuck shop by one of the gardeners. We used to queue to get our sweet ration, alphabetically or reverse alphabetically. I collected cigarette cards of footballers and chocolates with plastic toys in them. The sweets were all laid out and priced.

The stones from the unripe peaches were used for jacks and I got tummy ache by eating unripe and unwashed guavas. There was a mulberry bush somewhere as well.

Pulling dinkies along by string and constructing dams during the rainy season in the gulley by the road bridge, near the southwestern end of the classrooms. And in the climbing frame where Luigi broke his elbow and the swings from where we used to see how far we could jump.

The times table drills and tests.

The roller skating on the paths through the woods pulled by our elastic 'S' hook belts.

Can anyone remember the kite flying? Must have been '62 or '63.

Planting the fir trees for Prince Edward Andrew's birth.

Taking Paladrine(?) anti malaria tablets at lunchtime.

Rob Hill, Stanley House, '59-'63

David Milner

I must have been there at around the same time as you and was also in Stanley house.   My memory is poor regarding the years and names of friends there and I was only there for one year.   I do remember the kite flying - bobbins of strong cotton/twine were like gold dust.   I remember being in the Elephant brigade of the scouts, the cow hide bedsteads and the drum beat that was used to call us the meals - I can still play it.   We used to roller skate over the bare ground in steel wheeled skates and search the tunnels in the fir forest.  I used to point my chameleon at the flies on the window of the classrooms and watch its eyes focus on the prey and collect it with its tongue.


Quote from: Anne Smithyman on 24 July, 2009, 14:33
Mbeya School for 5 years.
Things I remember:
Mr Waddington was the headmaster when I went there in form 2 in 1955 as a day scholar. My teachers were Miss Swift and Miss Steere. In 1956 my teacher was Miss Thompson (3a) and Mr. Francis became headmaster. In 1957 I was in 4a with Mr McCleery; in 1958 I was in 5a.

In my first year at Mbeya, I was a day scholar as my father was the British Government D.C. in Mbeya. Then we were transferred to Zanzibar and I had to fly to Mbeya with my brother, Michael. I think that the terms were very long then. After a week, I announced to my brother that I had had enough of this and would go home now! He broke the terrible news to me that I had another 5-6 weeks at boarding school.

There were various games in fashion each term - like jacks or pick-up-sticks or skipping. We loved playing with Dinky cars creating long roads in the dirt dongas. We played hospitals, lying on the steps behind the assembly hall. We used to learn dancing in the hall; I remember the Scottish dancing and dancing the polka. We had old fashioned roller skates and used to have a track next to the gym and fly round and round for hours.

We used to have the job of raising the union jack on the flagpole at assembly. First it had to be folded correctly, with a loop in it so it would break out when it reached the top. You had to be careful that you did not get it upside down.

For the annual fancy dress event you had to line up and present yourself with a partner, curtsey or bow to the headmaster and his wife. This was in the assembly area in front of the hall. Once my brother went as a Viking warrior and I was a Spanish dancer. I was very envious of my brother's outfit.

Next to the hall there was an anti room which had cabinets with shallow drawers and a magnificent butterfly collection. Scientifically arranged.
Behind the hall was a music room where I learnt to play the recorder. If you were in the choir you wore a white surplice over a dark skirt.

In the River Garden there was a fast flowing stream and water was taken away from it for irrigation in concrete lined furrows. On the other side to the right was a huge baobab tree - you could climb this to a certain level, round and round. Many of us would be in it at once.
Once we went on an outing to visit an Indian girl's school. I had never really met Indians and this left a big impression on me.
When the Mau Mau rebellion was on, we were sent home a week early and the school was used as a 'refugee' camp for families from Kenya. I seem to remember that we had lights mounted on dormitories at night in preparation for a possible attack? Certainly there were guards around the dormitories.

In the girls toilet block at the end of the senior classrooms, we shimmied up the walls and climbed into the roof space. We then climbed along under the roof through all the classrooms. We made a small hole in the board so we could peer down into the classrooms. We had to move along on the wooden struts so as not to fall through the light board. We travelled right along to the area behind the stage in the hall. The classrooms were in a "U" shape behind the assembly hall. Facing the hall, the junior classrooms were to the right and the senior ones to the left. The headmaster's office was across the road on the way to the River Garden.

I was a Brownie and then became a Girl Guide. These groups were taken very seriously. There were all sorts of tasks we had to complete, gaining badges: how to follow a trail; how to build a fire; various knots to tie. Once we went on overnight camp into an area near the teachers' accommodation. While the Catholic girls were at church on the Sunday some of us raided the orchard and ate the fruit. We were in terrible trouble when we were found out.

In my last year they built a rifle range in the River Garden and a wall to hold the targets.
We would lie down across the river and shoot at the targets on the near side of the river. You had to cross the bridge to get your target to see how you had done.
The whole senior class climbed the mountain 'Mbeya Peak', behind the school. It took the whole day and was a fiasco. Some kids were meant to carry the water and the fruit / lunch. We got to the top, had a wonderful view of the school below us, and then found that all the water and fruit had been eaten by the hungry carriers. We were parched with thirst. There was a free for all dash back down the mountain. Out of control we were desperate for water. Some kids asked Africans for water. I remember dashing back into Burton dormitories bathroom and drinking gallons.

In the bathroom there were 4 baths in a line and for bath time you lined up naked with your towel to await your turn for a bath. I remember lining up for inoculations outside the sanatorium and being terrified as the word was passed back along the line that the needle was blunt and that it had broken in one of the kid's arms. I seemed to spend quite a bit of time in the sanatorium with bronchitis and used to play with cards, building tall constructions.

Girls would be punished with the wet tacky. I remember the whole dormitory lining up for this once.

In my final year, 1959, we were told we had to do the new exam, the 11+ and we all lined up in front of the refectory to do the exam. I was then told that I did not need to do this as I was going to school in South Africa.

You could have a boyfriend and this was organised by empowering a go-between to approach him and ask him if he was interesting in being your boy-friend. That was as far as it went!
We loved playing in the fir trees beyond the playing fields. Inside the forest there were tunnels that looked full of snakes and spiders. We believed that the Germans had made them and did not go into them. Did anyone? We had a special route climbing from fir tree to fir tree, often at quite a height, and we felt this to be very daring.

There were two dogs at Mbeya School, one called 'Poppy' and another daschund called 'Whisky'; we loved them. We had chameleons and believed that if you put them on your red jumper that they would pop in the effort to change their colour to red! Then the little African boys brought us baby pigeons and sold them to us, saying that they would kill them otherwise. The pigeons always died anyway. The teachers found out and stopped the purchasing of baby birds.

I was friends with Sandra Blain, Janet Rutter, Christine Mountain and my younger cousin, Diana Wren. My brother, Michael Smithyman is two years older than me. He was in Stanley house and a very good sportsman. He went to Lushoto School for at least a year after leaving Mbeya School.

It's amazing what you can remember when you start to think about those days! I think that we were lucky to be there, we had wonderful school grounds, good, if stern teachers and a solid education. There never was a sense that girls were any less than the boys. We were in the same classrooms, did serious sports, learnt to shoot, tie knots, make fires. I give thanks for all those experiences.

I have various old Mbeya school magazine from 1956 and 1957 and small personal photographs. At first they had only 2 terms in the year, later 3 and produced a school magazine either 2 or 3 per year.
Here below is a photo of the front cover of "The Mbeyan". The photo below is of speech day with Headmaster, Mr Francis and his wife, I am on the right, Sandra Blain on the left. I think that this is 1956. The thrid picture is of Christine Mountain and myself in our choir outfits.


I think his name was WALLINGTON....they named the 'Red' House after him! I was at Mbeya from 1957 (7rs) until 1960?? in Stanley.

I am 're-friended' !! with Tiffany & Lou Morrant (also Stanley) Tiff is now Tiffany Foster and shares her year between the Isle of Wight and Noordhoek (RSA) and Lou is Lou Docke & has a Farm in Noordhoek.

I also see Diana Curtis nee Wren regularly.

I live in Knysna, on the Southern Coast of South Africa.


I've been reading through a variety of the topics here and have thoroughly enjoyed the comments of others who attended Mbeya School during this period. These comments, along with the photos that some have posted, sure bring back a flood of memories. My parents lived in Tukuyu so I was a boarder during this time - began when I was 6, so I'd guess that I was in Standard 1?.

I've recently found a Google Earth view of the school (8°55'28.00"S - 33°24'46.00"E), which is now a technical school, and it looks almost exactly as I remember it almost 60 years ago!

--I fondly remember wrestling with my best friend (whose name I cannot remember), rolling around on the grass outside the dorm right after bathing before the evening meal.
--I remember the dining hall, the meals, the drum beat that called us to meals ... I still beat it out once in a while for my kids and grand kids.
--I remember the dorms, the matron, the communal baths; the classrooms, inkwells, spitballs (I remember that I broke a girl's glasses with one once) ... and the "Kiboko" on occasion.
--I remember the movies, the backstage area of the auditorium, climbing up into the attic of the auditorium and changing the time on the clock ... then climbing through the attic areas above the classrooms and rest-rooms - the girls' was always of interest ...
--I remember my first game of rugby - I was hooked! Played it from then on through high school.
--I remember the walks in the forested areas around the fields - finding mouse remains from the owls.
--I had friends who lived at a Bible School a few miles from Mbeya School toward Mbeya mountain - and their dog showed up at the school on occasion looking for me.

There are so many other memories that have flooded my mind since finding this site. I'd sure love to go back sometime just to relive some of these memories ...