Uganda, Western Province

Not so well known as the similar signs on the Kampala-Masaka road, this sign is on the Mbarara-Kasese road.  PHOTO Graham Wallace

Nostalgic images of the Hotel Margherita which served the ghost town of Kasese and the copper mine at Kilemebe.  By 1956 the western extension of the railway from Kampala had reached Kasese and there were great hopes for its development.  Tarmac roads were laid out in the familiar grid pattern but there was no industry.  The railway gradually fell into disrepair and ultimately disuse (see below) but at one time there was a thrice weekly all classes passenger train, complete with dining car for first and second class passengers.  This service connected with the Mail Train to and from Nairobi, which also ran three times weekly.

PWD maintained a fire engine at the airfield, a mandatory requirement since Kasese was served by East African Airways DC3 from Entebbe.  But light aircraft came and went and it was unusual in 1959 not to see two or three aircraft at the Field - one, at least, I think was owned by Kilemebe Mines.

There was another relatively modern, if spartan, hotel at Katwe by the Lake.

But the quaintest hotel was the old fashioned Mountains of the Moon Hotel in Fort Portal.

PHOTOs Daphne Seager

A popular car run from Fort Portal was round by the crater lakes, which, as the name suggests, are flooded volcano craters.  The water is salty and undrinkable - PHOTOs John Garside

After driving by the crater lakes sometimes we ended up at Kikorongo where the Omukama of Toro made a "loyal" address on 30 April 1954.  The location was visited by the Queen Mother when she toured Kenya and Uganda in 1958 - PHOTOs John Garside
Queen Elizabeth National Park in the 1950s with Mweya Lodge and a launch on the Kazinga Channel - PHOTOs Jean-Pol Cornu

Common signs in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.  I have not included any game shots - the internet abounds with pictures of game;  however it was possible to go for many, many miles - and presumably still is - without seeing anything.  Once I had a school friend to stay part of the holidays with me and my parents.  He lived near Gilgil in Kenya and hadn't seen much game.  So we went off on safari from Fort Portal and ended up at the frontier with the then Belgian Congo.  Normally we saw at least elephant and buffalo, but on that occasion all we saw was a turtle - and, no, we didn't even bother taking a photograph!  PHOTOs John Garside

Mweya Lodge (above) in the Queen Elizabeth Game Park overlooks the Kazinga Channel viewed here from the Lodge (right) .  The Channel separates Lake Edward from Lake George - PHOTOs John Garside

Entrance to  - Queen Elizabeth Game Park, Western Province, Uganda - PHOTOs Daphne Seager

Mweya Lodge - PHOTOs Daphne Seager

Mewya Lodge (left) was visited by the Queen Mother during her 1958 tour when she also met the Omokamu of Toro and other local dignatories at the Queen's Pavilion (right) - PHOTOs Daphne Seager

The launch on Kazinga Channel was maintained by PWD - later Ministry of Works - from Fort Portal.  In the run up to the Queen Mother's Tour the Governor's Pontiac, which was to be used to convey the Queen Mother in the Game Park, was dispatched to Fort Portal where it was again serviced and cleaned after its 200 mile trip from Entebbe.  It was then discovered that the Queen Mother's royal standard was too big for the Pontiac's flag pole.  Another pole was hurriedly made up in Central Workshops in Kampala and despatched by special East African Airways DC3 (see below) to Kasese.  PHOTOs Daphne Seager

Light aircraft were a common sight at Kasese Airfield which was served a few times a week by a DC3 from Entebbe.  The Piper Aztec belongs to the Mining Company at Kilembe - PHOTOs Brett Langevad


Tracks laid in 1955 when the Western Extension was laid from Kampala to Kasese to service the copper mine at Kilembe.  All that is left of Kasese station in the 21st Century.  PHOTO Roger Steedman


An elephant silhouetted against the Kazinga Channel which joins Lake George and Lake Edward (left) - PHOTO John McCrow. The third - and largest of  Western Great Lakes - Lake Albert (right) PHOTO -  Ian Hamilton Post Card Collection

The pier at Masindi Port on Lake Kioga (left) with cotton bales stacked ready for loading into lighters. Sugar cane being bundled and loaded on the light railway at Madhvani, near Jinja (right). The light railway took the cane for loading onto EAR trains which had special sugar cane wagons. Lake Victoria is in the background. PHOTOs EAR&H Magazine

The EAR&H paddle steamer LUGARD II at Rhino Camp (left) on the River Nile in Uganda.

Paddle steamers of the East African Railways and Harbours pushed lighters laden with raw cotton from other ports on the Albert Nile to the ginnery at Rhino Camp.  PHOTO EAR&H Magazine


The legendary Mountains of the Moon - the Ruwenzori Mountains seen from Fort Portal in Western Uganda.  The Ruwenzori Hotel some 25 miles outside Fort Portal where 16 mm films were shown in the lounge a few evenings a week.  PHOTOs Ian Hamilton Post Card Collection (left) Brett Langevad (right)

The Ruwenzori Hotel some 25 miles outside Fort Portal in 2014 - PHOTOs Skyworks

The Ruwenzori Mountains form the backdrop to civil servants' houses in Fort Portal.  Our house and garden - 1959.  PHOTOs (left) John McCrow.

Some fifty years later and a view of the Ruwenzoris taken from near the houses shown on the left.

- PHOTO (above) Roger Steedan

In the garden of the house above (left).  On the road to Bundabugio - the car is a 1957 Ford Zodiac Mk 2.  PHOTOs John McCrow

The Semliki Valley on the road to Bundabugio where pygmies with bows and poisoned arrows would pose for photographs for cigarettes or a few cents.  PHOTOs John McCrow

The Semliki Valley and hot springs in the 21st Century - PHOTO Roger Steedan

The Hot Springs (left) which smell of sulphur and where you can boil an egg. 

PHOTO John McCrow (1958)



The hot springs in the Semliki Valley, also some 50 years later - PHOTO Roger Steedan

Masindi, like Kasese, was ear-marked for a glorious future that did not materialise.  It served as a stopover for passengers travelling on the Nile steamer from Namasagali to Masindi Port and thence on, via EAR&H bus - it was hardly a coach - through Masindi to Butiaba where another steamer operated to Juba.  Whether the original Masindi Hotel was replaced and became the still Railway-owned Government Guest House, or whether the two were one in the same I cannot recollect after 50 years.  Certainly there was a Government Guest House in 1959 equipped with a diesel generator which gave patrons the luxury of electric light - at least until 10 pm prompt!  PHOTOs Daphne Seager