'Ben' Benbow

Name ID 793

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Extract Author: Nick Jolly
Page Number: 2005 04 04
Extract Date: 1947-1951

Sao Hill School

Very Interested to find your site whilst trying to locate information on the School I attended in the Southern Highlands near Iringa from 1947-1951. My father (Major) John Jolly had left the army after the war and obtained a job with the Government sponsored Ground nut scheme. We were first based at Mohambiqua (? Spelling) then Chunya , Arusha (living in the Arusha Hotel which was run by the Benbow family who later moved to run a Hotel on Zanzibar and finally in Tanga. When the ground nuts failed to grow quite as was expected of them, my father ,an engineer transferred to a new haulage company called Tanganyika Roadways.

I have many happy memories of this period of my life (jiggers and all!) and particularly remember, whilst living in the old goldmining town of Chunya ,going to a crocodile farm run by a Frenchman on Lake Rukwa which is mentioned on your site. In the dry season the tributaries dried up leaving pools in which the crocs. Gathered. These were located by Africans in dugouts using spears with string and cork float attached. When a croc came near to the bank a group of extremely brave Africans (as I saw it aged 8) entered the water and, having located the blunt end of the creature (the tail) under water dragged it out by its tail and dispatched it with shortened pickaxes. As I remember this gruesome carnage was accompanied by much singing and merriment. The banks were littered with crocodile skeletons picked clean by the ever present vultures.

I have always felt that I was incredibly fortunate to live as a child in Africa and would welcome any advice on locating information/contact with others who attended Sao Hill School

You mention your father joined Tanganyika Roadways. Do you have any more information about the company. There is a road in Arusha called Col. Middleton road, and someone suggested that he was associated with/in charge of a company called something like Tanganyika Roadways - set up to provide transport to farmers to get their crops to the railways for export etc.

I'm off to Tanzania at the weekend - I'll try to do a site update before I go, but if not it will be the end of the month before I can do it.

From memory my school was called the Southern Highlands School, Sao Hill near Iringa. The headmaster was Geoffrey Holland and Deputy was Lycett who had played cricket pre war for England. I recall with some pride that my record was seven beatings in one term.

My father worked with a Bert Western though I will check his address book to be sure. From my memory he was the senior but whether he was the MD or owner I am not sure. When my father died in 1990 I found Bert's telephone number and rang him, he was living I believe in Surrey but doubtful he will still be alive, but I believe he had children.

Tanganyika Roadways, with vehicles painted deep blue with yellow lettering ranged from Matadors with circular gun apperture in the cab roof to the mighty Diamond Tee Clippers that had been used to carry Tanks. All were ex-WD and were brought in from landing craft near Lindi beach for the Ground Nut Scheme.

When that folded Tanganyika Roadways bought the plant to set up business. My father was in charge of the jungle clearing plant and had hair raising tales of what went on. Health and Safety was in it's infancy.

Have a good trip, I am envious. I joined the Merchant Navy to try to get back! I still remember the aromas when, in the rainy season (it rained at night in my memory!) I woke up with the hot sun beginning to dry the vegetation.

Extract ID: 5038

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Johnston, Erika The other side of Kilimanjaro
Page Number: 024
Extract Date: 1950's

Marriage!

I had conditioned myself to the fact that I would spend the rest of my days as Robin's part-time secretary, part-time companion and good close friend. I had equated this with losing him altogether.

In Arusha I worked for a man called Benbow in a hotel and he was giving me a farewell party for I had decided to change jobs. Robin, Ben and I were strolling round a recently completed new wing of the hotel in which was the room where the party was to be held. In making the appropriate noises about its decor, Robin casually said: "Oh, Ben, you may as well announce Erika's and my engagement at the party."

I was struck speechless but I did manage to hear Ben say that in that case he hoped Robin would be able to attend. Robin excused himself. He had to be present at a meeting of the Kilimanjaro West Farmers' Association on that particular night.

At the party after presenting me with an attractive watch for long service (eight months) Ben announced our engagement. People looked surprised, delighted or relieved, depending on how cynical they were. A girl standing close to me looked outraged.

"Well, you've certainly got yourself the most eligible bachelor in East Africa!"

I did not know about that, but the eligible bachelor was already paving the way for my future life, for at the farmers' meeting he was elected chairman of the Association and put my name forward as secretary.

As all the Ol Mologans were up in Nairobi recuperating from our wedding, we spent our honeymoon at Ol Molog. The day after we were married I woke up to find a note propped up on the breakfast table: "Darling, I've had to fly to Moshi. Be a dear and take a look at the paper work."

Paper work! As I looked at the office table piled high with unopened correspondence, I realized that in the past I had only touched on the fringe of his work. As I sat down to deal with it, I began to suspect the reasons for him marrying me.

Extract ID: 4454

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nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: John Autard
Page Number: 2003 04 23
Extract Date: 23 April 2003

John Autard - Making of the movie Hatari

I found your webpage re Arusha and the making of the movie Hatari - do you know what hotel was used in the film.

My father John (Jean) Autard was running the Safari Hotel at the time but he died in August 1961 and I am trying to put together a chronological history of our family. I have several postcards that were sent from the Safari Hotel at the time with the Hatari Stars on.

I would appreciate any pointers.

Thanking you sincerely

John Autard (jnr)

Cape Town South Africa

Dear Sirs

I have written to you earlier today.

I found on your site reference to "Ben" Benbow who was running the Safari Hotel in 1960/61.

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"The Safari Hotel was masterfully managed for the Rydons by a pale-skinned Englishman named Ben Benbow. Benbow was a professional hotelier down to his manicured fingertips and slicked-down hair. He was the only man in Arusha who always wore a suit and tie. Among his dusty, khaki-clad safari clientele, he stood out like a catwalk mannequin in the lturi forest. Rotund, jovial, and present when guests registered, day or night, Benbow was on a first-name basis with every white hunter as well as with celebrity actors such as Robert Taylor, John Wayne, and Hardy Kruger. The walls around the huge copper bat at the Safari were decorated with framed and signed photographs of white hunters with their clients and trophies."

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Is he still alive and if so how could I contact him - would you possibly have any photographic references to him?

Thanking you sincerely

John Autard

Cape Town South Africa

Dear John

Thank you for both your emails.

I was going to write to check that you had found all entries relevant for you, and I guess if you found the Benbow entry you probably have.

Did you spot in the Places Index that there are a couple of extracts for the New Safari Hotel, including a fairly recent one from the Arusha Times On-line edition.

The Benbow extract you cite comes from White Hunters by Brian Herne. I've checked to see if there are any pictures of Benbow, but no.

Herne should still be alive, and according to the book is living in Southern California. His research was very extensive, and his sources and acknowledgements give lots of private papers he had access to .

There's nothing so obvious as an email address in the book, so you may have to go through his publishers.

And you asked about the hotel used for filming. - No idea really. The base for filming was at Momella Lakes in what is now the Arusha National Park. Momella Lodge was built for the crew, and the nearby Ol Donyo Rok Lodge was built for Hardy Kruger.

A lot of the plains scenes were filmed out in the Rift Valley near Makiyuni.

The main scene that I remember in Arusha Town involved the Clock Tower, and then in and out of the grocer called Narajan Singh (not sure about the spelling). I'd need to look at the film again to see if there was a hotel involved, and to try to identify it.

I'm visiting Arusha at the end of May, and hope to see the new New Arusha Hotel, and see what they've dug up about Hatari etc.

I've not yet found any (expat) residents of Arusha who were also there in the 1950's, but I'll try to find out what I can.

Are there any more specific questions I might be able to help you with, and do you have any more details about your father's time in Arusha?

Best of luck

David

Dear David

Thank you for you quick response.

I was hoping that you would be able to cast light on Benbow - I have done several searches on the Net but have yielded nothing as yet. If I were to send you a photograph do you know of anyone that might be able to ID it from that period?

The scene in Hatari wherein the elephants barge into the hotel was at the Safari Hotel, I was in the dining room at the time of filming!!!

Thank you again for being in touch.

Kindest regards

John

Extract ID: 4471

See also

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

The Safari Hotel

The Safari Hotel was masterfully managed for the Rydons by a pale-skinned Englishman named Ben Benbow. Benbow was a professional hotelier down to his manicured fingertips and slicked-down hair. He was the only man in Arusha who always wore a suit and tie. Among his dusty, khaki-clad safari clientele, he stood out like a catwalk mannequin in the lturi forest. Rotund, jovial, and present when guests registered, day or night, Benbow was on a first-name basis with every white hunter as well as with celebrity actors such as Robert Taylor, John Wayne, and Hardy Kruger. The walls around the huge copper bat at the Safari were decorated with framed and signed photographs of white hunters with their clients and trophies.

Extract ID: 3826

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Fosbrooke, Henry Ngorongoro: The Eighth Wonder
Page Number: 213b
Extract Date: 1963 Jul

The Lodge was opened on a do-it-yourself basis

'A.B.' Fletcher from the United States provided the drive and energy to get the new buildings up, whilst 'Ben' Benbow, an experienced British hotelier, brought in the know-how which got the catering off to such a good start. Though this team failed to survive, they laid such good foundations that by 1967 the 105 bed Lodge provided 20,724 bed nights accommodation in a single year.

Further accommodation added ... was the Forest Lodge or Dhillon's Lodge, so named after the energetic and charming Sikh couple who were the first concessionaires, and the Youth Hostel to accommodate educational parties, with an annex to cater for hitch-hikers.

Extract ID: 725

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Extract Author: Christa Von Mutius
Page Number: 2004 03 14

Ben Benbow

having looked at your web site I am very keen to trace Ben Benbow or any one who might know his where-abouts.

My name is Christa von Mutius sister of Bertie of Momella Lodge and I'm interested to contact friends from life in Tanzania.

Many thanks for your help

Christa

Extract ID: 4853
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