Monthly Archives: March 2021

The Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours – The Second World War ….. and after. ….

I recently picked up a copy of each of the two volumes of ‘Permanent Way‘ written by M.F. Hill and published in 1949. The first volume [1] is a history of ‘The Uganda Railway’ written in the 1940s when the railway company was known as ‘The Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours’ and published at the end of that decade under the jurisdiction of the new ‘East African Railways and Harbours’ which was formed to formally include the infrastructure in the modern country of Tanzania.

Hill’s first volume provides a detailed history of the Uganda Railway until just after the end of World War II.

This is the last article based on Hill’s book. Previous articles in this series based on Hill’s 1949 book are:

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/12/18/uganda-at-the-end-of-19th-century-and-the-events-leading-up-to-the-construction-of-the-uganda-railway

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/12/26/the-uganda-railway-at-the-beginning-of-20th-century

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/12/28/the-uganda-railway-during-the-first-world-war

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/01/08/the-uganda-railway-in-the-first-5-years-after-world-war-1

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/02/06/the-uganda-railway-the-gilded-years-1924-1928

https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/02/18/the-kenya-and-uganda-railways-and-harbours-the-great-depression-and-years-of-argument

The Second World War

It was anticipated that, given the international situation in the first 8 months of 1939, followed by the first 4 months of the War, trade would decline significantly to the detriment of the railway. In fact it only declined 2% on the record levels of 1938. [1: p531]

Rates were pushed down to support the economy, but the railway still made a surplus of £208,422. The position was satisfactory with the one exception, provision to cover outstanding loans meant that the railway’s free reserves were only £155,045. This sum was clearly inadequate for the size of the undertaking. [1: p531]

“The railway was not called upon to undertake any major troop movements immediately upon the outbreak of war, because there were few troops to move.” [1: p532]

Initial fears in the British sphere of East Africa were allayed when it was discovered that the feared invasion by Italian forces was not going to happen soon. Mussolini decided to remain ‘non-belligerent’ during the first nine months. This gave East Africa important time to prepare.

“The railway had 3,000 goods wagons and 175 passenger coaches, of which 54 were derelict four-wheelers rescued from the scrap heap. Throughout the war there came no reinforcement of coaching stock, ships or lighters, and only thirteen new engines and 380 goods wagons – in terms of the work done, it was a very small reinforcement. During September and October all the obsolete engines, lying idle and waiting to be sold as scrap-iron, were quickly reconditioned, re-equipped and made ready for service. Fortunately the stock of coal was sufficient for eight months.” [1: p532]

“In general terms, the work of the railway went on in the normal manner, and there was no reduction of African and Asian staff. The earthworks on the realignment between Uplands and Naivasha has been started in August and the work was allowed to proceed. By the middle of 1941 the earthworks, retaining walls and the culverts of the new alignment were completed beyond Naivasha as far as Gilgil. Due to the general shortage of materials, completion of the realignment was then postponed until after the war.” [1: p532]

A reconnaissance survey  for the extension of the Nanyuki branch-like into the Northern Frontier Provence was finished by the end of September 1940.

“The total available European man-power in Kenya was 8,998, and soon more than 3,500 men were serving in the armed forces. Of the remainder, rather more than 3,000 were retained in occupations essential to the community. The great majority of the thousand or so European farmers left alone on farms were elderly or of low medical category. They were nobly reinforced by more than 800 European women, many of whom were left alone on farms and many of whom looked after more than one farm. About 6,500 European women, between the ages of sixteen and sixty, were registered for essential service in one form or another, and more than half of them were soon engaged in war-work outside their own homes.” [1: p533]

The railways made a significant contribution to the war effort. “The Nairobi workshops became the Ordnance Main Base Workshops of the East Africa Command. There was a wide range of excellent machinery and skilled men to run it. The shops were the only well-equipped mechanical workshops of any size in East Africa. … In the last 6 months of 1940 more than half the shops’ capacity was devoted to the equipment of the forces. During these months, the maintenance of the railway took second place to an extent which later made it difficult to cope with the arrears of repair. … [At the end of 1939,] the workshops were asked to design and build bodies for 22 motor ambulances, the first of 250 which were eventually built; to manufacture 72 three-inch mortars, 25,000 screw pickets for barbed-wire entanglements, 600 four-gallon water tanks; to make hundreds of stretchers, target frames, supports for anti-tank guns, and to undertake repairs to scores of Bren guns.” [1: p534]

Four Kenyan and seven Tanganyikan coaches were converted to form an ambulance train.

The list goes on and does not need to be repeated here. It is worth noting that in addition to the work at Nairobi, the railway workshops at Mombasa were proving of great value to the Royal Navy and to the Mercantile Marine. A variety of marine repairs were undertaken before the Navy installed their own dockyard facilities. [1: p536]

The transportation and engineering departments began to experience added strain because of the war effort. Between 2nd September and 2nd November 1939, 473 Eritrean deserters and 7,000 Abyssinian refugees had to be moved in 15 train loads, away from potential conflict areas in the North of Kenya. Throughout the war, dramatic increases in both traffic and passengers occurred. “By 1944, the goods traffic had soared to more that 2,000,000 tons, double that of record ore-war years, while the number of passenger journeys, exclusive if special troop movements, rose from about 1,000,000 in 1938 to 2.75 millions in 1944.” [1: p536]

The first clash of arms of the East African Campaign occurred at Notable, in the far North of Kenya. A force of 150 men held the British position in the first of ‘Beau Geste’ against overwhelming odds, around 10 times the ground force strength and Italian Air Power. The eventual retreat of the British force was achieved by stealth and guile.

The Italians began their advance into the Northern Frontier Provence, occupying Dobel and Buna. Another Italian force attempted to invade the Sudan without success. The Italian bombers were billeted within range of both Nairobi and Kilindini, but made no attempt to to bomb either target. [1: p540]

In the Northern Frontier Provence, highly trained British commanded troops soon gained the upper hand. “In Kenya, as in Libya and the Sudan, bluff was a potent secret weapon in the British armoury. The Italian intelligence reports presented a fantastic exaggeration of the real land and air strength. … A few technicians with carefully manipulated wireless sets … so deceived the Italian command that they were convinced of the arrival of an Australian division.” [1: p541]

By the autumn of 1940, the British forces main preoccupation had moved from defence to the mounting of an offensive against Italian Somaliland with The port of Kismayu as a target. [1: p541]

In November 1940, it was decided that the projected offensive “against Italian Somaliland required the building of a railway from Thika, on the Nairobi-Nanyuki line to Garba Tulla, a point in the Frontier Provence roughly halfway between the northern bend of the Tana River and the Uaso Nyiro which flows into the great Lorian Swamp. … The railway was called upon to build the new line, nearly 250 mike’s long, through grim country, as quickly as possible. … By the end of March 1941, when work was stopped due to the unexpected speed of … [the[ offensive, 217 miles of the line had been surveyed, and 117 miles staked out; 81 miles of earthworks had been completed, 7 major bridges were nearly finished, and 12 miles of track had been laid.” [1: p544]

The figures for 1940 were: “including the balance of £119,325 brought forward from 1939, there was a surplus of £554,433 for the year. … Of this sum, £21,000 was allocated as a reserve for the Superannuation Fund, £120,000 was contributed to the Betterment Fund, £300,000 was devoted to be a remission of charges on military traffic and £113,433 was carried forward.” [1: p544]

The rates charged on military traffic were radically reduced. Very low rates for troop movements were introduced. Speaking in 1946, the General Manager said that these rate reductions amounted to a saving to the British taxpayer of over £2 million. In addition, early in the war, a direct gift from the railway of £655,000 was made and an interest-free loan was made to the British Government of £500,000.

“On the other side of the ledger, Kenya colony and the railway were relieved of the contingent liability of £5,592,592 in respect of the original cost of the Uganda Railway on 21st May 1940.” [1: p545]

Total first- and second-class journeys rose firm 46,601 in 1938 to 77,089 in 1940. Increases in the population through settling refugees, the presence of the army, and petrol rationing all contributed to an increase in travel by train. Goods traffic in the year rose to 1,257,158 tons. This produced revenue of £2,184,752, only marginally above the receipts from 1935 which were achieve on transporting 849,795 tons of goods.

Although ton-milesbwere down on both 1939 and 1938 figures, wagon-miles increased from 68 million in 1939 to 74.5 million in 1940. [1: p545]

Public traffic was more evenly spread over the year but instead of significant amount of long-haul goods, there was intensive military traffic with frequent short-hauls and uneconomic wagon loads. [1: p545]

By the end of the year, the strain on the railways increased immensely.  In December, 46 special troop trains were run. In addition to the building of the railway towards Garba Tulla, the demands of the Army for sheds and sidings, stores and offices, were so large that a special engineering section had to be set up to cope with military work. [1: p545]

The military campaigns of 1941 which entered the Italian sphere and routed their forces was a great success. According to Hill: “In strategic conception the campaign was bold; in terms of organisation and execution it deserved all praise; and the most remarkable feature was the triumph of the engineers and of transport over immense distances and great natural difficulties.” [1: p550]

In comparison to the battles fought in “Russia, in northern Africa, in Italy and western Europe, the East Africa Campaign was a small thing. But it was the first complete success of British arms on land,band it had a far greater influence on the outcome of the war than us often realised. Of events had turned out otherwise … as once seemed possible and even probable – would it have been possible to hold the Middle East, or the Indian Ocean? If those two vital zones had been lost, the Germans and the Japanese might well have linked hands and the war would have been immeasurably prolonged.” [1: p551-552]

The railway was a major contributor to the war effort, between August 1940 and September 1941, “the railway carried 670,600 tons of military supplies, … special troop trains moved nearly 155,000 soldiers and 22,000 Italian prisoners of war. … Thousands of military passengers travelled by the ordinary train services.” [1: p552]

In 1941, traffic was greatly increased over the figures for 1940: freight ton-miles increased by 87 million; passenger traffic increased to 1,614,156 excluding military passengers (204,522); goods traffic increased to 2,257,761 tons; Kilindini Harbour dealt with 2,101,970 tons (cf. 1938 – 1,261,812 tons).

For the first time railway earnings exceeded £4 million, the surplus including carry forward was £1,217,083 (of which: £365,539 was devoted to remission of charges on military traffic, £321,214 was allocated to the Betterment Fund; £20,000 to the Superannuation Fund; £160,000 to the Rates Stabilisation and Relief Fund; and £350,330 to the General Reserve). [1: p552]

A wagon shortage was a serious problem, exacerbated by a concentration of wagons at depots awaiting shipments; demands for export cargoes at the coast at short notice; uncertain arrival dates for ships; the cancellation of shipments already notified; the use of covered wagons for troop movement; carriage of prisoners of war, third class passengers and livestock. Every effort was made to increase wagon turn-round times which resulted in shorter trains, over-use of coal, increased use of wood (which resulted in the use of less powerful engines0. [1: p552]

Six new Garratt engines in December 1940 and throughout 1941, was a  welcome improvement in haulage power but the Garratts were unable to operate with wood fuel. The rapid increase in passenger traffic could not be efficiently accommodated, rolling stock was aging  and available coaching stock was always given to the miltary as a priority. Public criticism grew. [1: p553]

Closer cooperation between the railway and Sudan Railways and the marine services on Lake Victoria became essential, as did better connections with the Tanganyika rail system. The General Manager (Brig.-General Sir Godfrey Rhodes was seconded to the Army in October 1941. He was transferred to Iran and as a result he finally resigned his post as General Manager in June 1942, after being absent for some 8 months. [1: p553]

His replacement was not appointed, even on a temporary basis, until May 1942. 1942 saw a further increase  in goods traffic and passenger numbers. Although military goods traffic fell slightly to 667,000 tons, “the total goods traffic increased to 1,808,624 tons and the passenger journeys by 42 per cent, to 2,333,033. The goods traffic would have been greater still if the short rains had not failed int eh later part of teh year, a misfortune which was partly responsible for the food shortage of 1943.” [1: p555]

Great difficulties were experienced in sourcing spare parts for the railway which were normally imported. The workshops had to rely much more on their own resources. Many engines had missed their intermediate 60,000 mile repairs and repair intervals were extended to 120,000 miles. Despite this the railways we able to meet the increases in engine mileage from 4,071,238 miles in 1939 to 5,546,577 in 1944. The workshops performed admirably, especially as they were still being called on to meet military needs as well as those of the railway. [1: p556]

During 1942, the railway placed a substantial order for new engines and rolling stock. In order to finance the deal, £500,000 was temporarily transferred from the  Renewals Fund to the Betterment Fund. Half of which was covered by an allocation from the 1942 surplus. At the end of the year, the railway was left with a surplus of £893,620, (of which £447,626b was paid to the Betterment Fund; £250,000 was repaid to the Renewals Fund; £26,369 to the Superannuation Fund; and £69,625 to the General Reserve). [1: p557]

Despite significant increases in income, the massive increase in traffic resulted in a rapid deterioration in the general condition of the railway infrastructure and rolling stock. All non-urgent work was deferred.

“By the end of 1944 the railway’s Capital Account amouted to £24,255,938, of which sum £14,139,229 was interest-bearing capital and £10,116,709 was free of interest,” coming from Parliamentary Grants and the railway’s own revenue streams. [1: p559]

in 1943, military traffic increased to 889,000 tons. Rainfall was was short of expectations, navigational difficulties began to be experience on the Great Lakes and a plague of locusts and famine once again threatened. Exports decreased in imports rose. The total goods traffic on the railway increased to 2,024,238 tons. Passenger journeys rose to 2,745,229. [1: p560]

In December 1943, the workshops had to  build 250 covered wagons and 130 high-sided open wagons which had been delivered as parts from the USA.

There was another large surplus at the end of 1943, (of this, £270,743 went to the Betterment Fund; £250,000 was used to wipe out the loan from the Renewals Fund; £29,500 went to a Gratuity Reserve Account; £100,000 to the Rates Stabilisation and Relief Account; £11,1430 to the Wartime Contingency Fund, and £152,831 was carried forward.

1944 brought no respite to the railway. Military traffic fell to 688,000 tons but the total goods carried rose to 2,084,594 tons. Passenger journeys rose to 2,752,647.[1: p561]

Seven new Barratt engines arrived – the ‘EC4’ class, as shown below, “although they were far less satisfactory than the engines of the ‘EC3’ class. The design of the new engines was imposed by the exigencies of war, and they gave a lot of trouble with hot axles and other defects. Due to unsatisfactory design, they required an intermediate overhaul sooner than was expected, and so they gave less assistance in hauling the heavy traffic than had been estimated.” [1: p562]

EC4

The official works photograph of a EC4 Class Garratt. [5]

“Although the machine shop was run night and day it could not produce enough finished parts to cope with the needs of incoming locomotives, which had generally run a greater mileage than was considered permissible before the war, in many cases without intermediate repair.” [1: p562]

Locomotives ran an average of 41,835 miles per engine. Very high mileages for Metre-gauge locos!

Both staff and stock were over the limits of their capacity/endurance. [1: p563]

“On paper the railway again earned a large surplus of £821,027; after adding the balance brought forward from 1943, £624,613 was allocated to the Betterment Funds, £267,245 to the Rates Stabilisaton and Relief Fund, £29,500 to the Reserve for Gratuities, and £52,500 to a Passages Equilibrium Reserve which was created to meet the heavy expenditure on passages for staff travelling on overseas leave, which was to be expected after the war.” [1: p563]

As is clear from these notes, the financial position of the railway was essentially no where near as good as the above figures suggest. The railway was rundown but because of the war it did not have the personnel resources to make use of surpluses in maintaining the railway. It was living off its capital! “The introduction of large engines and heavy and long trains … made it imperative to replace the present type of coupling and to effect improvements and alterations in the braking system if the standard of safety [was] to be maintained.”[1: p563]

The large surpluses of the war years  would not be sustained indefinitely. Further problems would need to be addressed so as to secure the future of the rail network. Hill points out that providing an adequate water supply and an adequate fuel supply was paramount. “The shortage of water [had] resulted in damage to and repeated failures of locomotive. …. Progressive steps [needed to] be taken to re[place wood as a lcomotive fuel. Apart from the fact that it [was] a comparatively inefficient for the production of motive power in a steam locomotive, there [was] always the ever-present risk of causing fires on land adjoining the railway, with consequent economic loss to the country.” [1: p564]

1945 was the fiftieth anniversary of the railway. “Bay 11th December 1945, the achievements of the railway had far surpassed the most optimistic dreams of its creators. By that time, also, the demands made upon it were creating a situation which grew the more difficult as the moths slid by.” [1: p564]

Strenuous arguments were made back in the UK in favour of radical action to increase the number of engines, rolling-stock, general equipment and staff. The entreaties fell on deaf ears and only two light Garratt engines were procured during the year. These were Class EC5 locomotives as shown below. The railway demanded 443,00 engine miles per month, the workshops had such a backlog of work that a reduced mileage had to be agreed. A guarantee of 390,000 miles per month was negotiated. In the end, through all manner of means, an average locomotive mileage of over 465,000 per month was sustained throughout 1945. [1: p564]

Kenya_Uganda_Railway_class_EC5

EC5 Garratt locomotive. ” of these were supplied to the network after WW2. [4]

The rolling-stock position was greatly hampered by the failure of wheel sets obtained in the USA – by the end of the year 160 bogie wagons were out of service. [1: 564]

Passenger traffic increased once again to 2,838,250 journeys. Freight traffic dropped as a result of a significant decrease in military traffic after the end of the war. However, there was a marked decrease in the goods carried which attracted significant subsidies. The result was a record revenue form goods traffic of £3,106,671. [1: p364-365]

“Despite attempts to tap new sources of supply, a shortage of water again proved a serious handicap. The rainfall was generally below average, and the lack of water caused grave anxiety in many directions besides the railway. In Nairobi the situation was critical, and it was patent that drastic measures to increase the supply were essential.” [1: p365]

Labour difficulties in Uganda adversely affected the running of all trains into the protectorate. Those difficulties and some lesser issues in Kenya led to a significant re-evaluation of wages and war bonuses. [1: p365] The administration of the rialway also needed to enhance productivity and sought ways to incentivise increased output. [1: p566-567]

Towards the end of 1945, it was agreed that the 1921 loan should be redeemed at the earliest opportunity. In December 1945, the complete amalgamation of the Kenya and Uganda Railway and Harbours with the Tanganyika Railway and Ports Services was proposed. [1: p567] Political expediency placed this proposal on hold. [1: p568]

From a financial perspective the railway did far better in 1946 “than had been expected, for earnings were £896,750 above the estimate. … The surplus amounted to £745,992 compared with an estimated deficit of £59,522. In 1947, there was much the same story to tell. The railborne tonnage incrased by 6.08 percent. over 1946, and the ton-mile figure for March was the highest ever achieved. The earnings were more than £1,000,000 above the estimate and the surplus amounted to £888,214. [1: 569]

“The shortage of materials of all kinds, especially wagon tyres, exacerbated the problems of coping with the increased traffic, and a series of coal crises made matters worse. … The difficulties of ensuring an adequate coal supply impelled a decision to change over from coal to oil, which would also cause a reduction in the fuel bill.” [1: p570]

During 1947, “32 third-class bogie coaches [arrived] and enabled an end of the practice, enforced by the war, of carrying some third-class passengers in goods vehicles. A Diesel rail-car service was introduced on the Kisumu-Butere branch in August, and proved very popular with the local population.” [1: p570] Two examples of these Wickham rail-cars are shown below.

41904741772_ec4d81feae_c

Metre gauge 200hp Wickham Rail Car No. 3, one of the three 58 seater railcars built for the Kenya & Uganda Railways Kisumu-Butere branch line. Works Nos. 2828-2830 ordered in January 1939 and finally delivered in May 1946. Fitted with Saurer BXDL engines. (Public Domain [2]

42611529222_254dbc0e84_c

Metre gauge 200hp Wickham Rail Car No. 2, numbered 2829 and delivered after WW2. (Public Domain) [3]

“Work on the Nairobi-Nakuru realignment, which had been held up during the war … was resumed” and eventually completed. [1: p570]

And over the period to the 1st May 1948, negotiations were undertaken to amalgamate the two railway systems in East Africa. This negotiations concluded on 1st May 1948 and Hill’s story of the old Uganda Railway ends at that point. He was, after all writing in 1949. We need to look elsewhere for the ongoing story of the railway network in East Africa from 1948 on through the gaining of independence by Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda up to the present day.

References

  1. M.F. Hill; Permanent Way – The Story of the Kenya and Uganda Railway – Volume 1; Hazel, Watson & Viney Ltd, Aylesbury & London, 1949.
  2. https://www.flickr.com/photos/29903115@N06/41904741772, accessed on 29th March 2021.
  3. https://www.flickr.com/photos/29903115@N06/42611529222/in/dateposted, accessed on 29th March 2021. 
  4. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kenya_Uganda_Railway_class_EC5.jpg, accessed on 21st March 2021.
  5. https://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/06/19/uganda-railways-part-24-locomotives-and-rolling-stock-part-b-1927-to-19 and https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/KUR_EC4_class, accessed on 19th June 2018.

Palm Sunday and Holy Week (Mark 11:1-11)

palm-sunday-31

One of the early experiences I remember well is watching Doctor Who. I always sat on the settee, with a cushion close at hand – and when things seemed to be getting to frightening I’d bring the cushion up to my face and peep over the top. If things looked really bad I’d hide behind the back of the settee – peeping out occasionally – with my imagination running riot!

I’ve carried this forward into adult life – some friends and I went to the cinema to watch Braveheart. The film has some very graphic and dramatic battle scenes. I was unaware of how I was responding. Each time an axe hit someone’s torso I was apparently jumping in my seat. At one point, I looked along the row of friends to find that they were all watching me rather than the screen.

I always get engrossed in what I’m watching on TV or at the cinema – and I find that I can usually anticipate the story line. My imagination works overtime – and if I’m not careful when I am watching TV, I find that the anticipation has got the better of me – I’ve got up from my seat and left the room. Before I even realize what I’m doing, I am in the kitchen putting the kettle on to boil!  In some things we watch on TV it is easy to get ahead of the action, anticipate what is going to happen and react accordingly.

We have a similar, but greater, problem with Holy Week and the Easter story. We can anticipate everything that is going to happen. It’s not that the plot is predictable or easy to anticipate – for us it’s the problem of hindsight.

We know that Palm Sunday’s jubilation was followed by the despair of Good Friday. We know that the seeming failure of Good Friday was quickly overtaken by the triumph of the first Easter Day. Hindsight is supposed to be beneficial – but in the case of the Easter story it robs us of the possibility of living through the events as they happened.

img_mouseover3What was going through the disciple’s minds as they came into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday? What was Jesus feeling as he rode into Jerusalem on that donkey? Our danger is that knowing the outcome we minimize the intensity of the events and feelings of Holy Week because we know it turned out OK in the end.

What was Jesus feeling as he entered Jerusalem knowing what the week ahead would hold? Was he was already feeling that overwhelming sense of loneliness that comes when we are completely misunderstood.

How many times had he told his disciples that he was going to Jerusalem to die? How often had they failed to hear what he said?

Palm Sunday dramatizes for us the chasm in understanding which existed between Jesus and everyone around him – his disciples and the happy shouting crowds. … Jesus was alone. Really alone – no one understood what he was doing – no one grasped what was about to happen!

When we talk of Christ’s suffering – we think primarily of the Cross. We miss the agony of the anticipation, the loneliness of the last week of his life. The shame of abandonment and torture. … And because we miss his anguish we minimize the significance of many of the events of that last week. With the benefit of hindsight we rush on to the resurrection – to the good news.

1dc2b2a68ab7fd0b323a3e9778c579faAs Jesus repeatedly talks about his death his disciples remain at best confused, at worst oblivious to what he is saying. And the loneliness Jesus felt in the crowd of Palm Sunday, gets replaced by the loneliness of the garden of Gethsemane. Only he can walk this road. No one will walk it with him!

When we grasp this, we will begin to be able to believe that Jesus understands our loneliness. … He knows the loneliness of the cell for those in solitary confinement; those condemned to die for their faith. But more than that – he feels the dark loneliness of depression; he is with us in the loneliness of the hospital bed; he knows the loneliness of watching other people=s pain; and he knows the loneliness of being misunderstood. It=s not just that he cares – he knows what we go through. He is the one that has gone before – he is the one who calls us on – in spite of the darkness or the pain – to continue to serve, to continue to love, to continue to hope.

So, as we live through this Holy Week, lets not get to far ahead of the plot anticipating the final outcome. Let’s rather to the best of our ability stay with the story watching and feeling it unfold. For then, perhaps only then, will we really begin to understand how much God loves us.

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Uganda Railways – Part 10A – West of Nakuru – Sugar Factory Branches on the approach to Kisumu.

On the final approaches to Kisumu the line passed through a significant sugar cane growing region. Sugar processing factories were set up in two locations along the line – Chemelil and Miwani. Both these locations were provided with short branch-line connections to the main Nakuru to Kisumu line. Both of these branch-lines are shown on the 1:250,000 OS Maps from the second half of the 20th Century. [1] The extract below is taken from an image file very kindly sent to me by James Waite.

a

Chemelil Railway Station was 26 miles East of Kisumu and was mentioned in Part 10 of the main series of articles about the Uganda Railway which can be found on this link:

https://wordpress.com/post/rogerfarnworth.com/8058

chemilil-railway-station-25-03-2016-e1484401060558Chemelil Railway Station. [2]

Chemelil in the mid-1950s. A double headed passenger train arrives at Chemelil, 26 miles from Kisumu .  The pilot engine is 2445  (c) Ron Bullock. [3][4]

Children cross the tracks at Chemelil. [2]

The short branch-line to Chemelil Sugar Factory left the mainline just to the Southeast of the Station beyond the C37 road. The next image shows a trip-working on the branch-line in the 1970s.

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Although the condition of the locomotives running on the mainline freight service dictated the need for a double-header, the short branch to the sugar mill at Chemelil was out of bounds to heavier of the two locomotives in charge of the train, No. 2924. This meant that No. 3145 had to make the trip along the branch-line on its own. This picture is (c) Rob Dickinson and used by kind permission. [8]

The branch travelled over relatively flat land, its junction with the mainline is shown on the first satellite image below it is followed by a series of satellite images which follow the line of the branch.

Chemelil 1

The branch junction at Chemelil was sited to the Southeast of the C37 road (Google Maps).

 

Chemelil 2

The branch travelled North East away from the mainline (Google Maps).

 

Chemelil 3

The C37 and the route of the branch-line soon converged (Google Maps).

 

Chemelil 4

Road and rail ran parallel to each other for a short while (Google Maps).

 

Chemelil 4a

Road and Rail ran parallel to each other just a few metres apart (Google Streetview)

 

Chemelil 6

As the C37 approaches a large roundabout, the branch turns gradually away form the road (Google Maps).

 

Chemelil 7

Just Southeast of the large roundabout junction between the C37 and the C34 the route of the line crossed the C34 and turned further round towards the East (Google Maps).

 

Chemelil 8

And across the southern side of the workers village at the Sugar Factory (Google Maps).

 

Chemelil 9

The line continues across the South side of the Factory workers village (Google Maps)

 

Chemelil 10

Before swinging away to the South (Google Maps)

 

Chemelil 11

And then round to the North along the West side of the settlement (Google Maps).

 

Chemelil 12

Then back around to the West as it approached its terminus in the industrial complex (Google Maps).

 

Chemelil 13

Chemelil Sugar Factory from above (Google Maps).

The Mainline to Kisumu travelling Northwest from Chemelil Railway Station followed a straight line to Kibigori. The next two images are taken just a short distance to the Northwest of Chemelil Station.

Chemelil 1A - (c) Joshua Obera - April 2018

Looking Southeast towards the Chemelil Railway Station (c) Joshua Obera – April 2018. [9]

Chemelil 1B - (c) Joshua Obera - April 2018

Looking Northwest towards Kibigori, from the same location (c) Joshua Obera – April 2018 [9]

139464266_3961245250574828_1601926355108115922_n

Rehabilitated bridge at km 174 on the Chemelil – Kibigori Section (c) Kenya Railways January 2021. [5]

Kibigori Railway Station was only a short distance Northwest along the mainline beyond the Nyando River. The adjacent photograph shows the station building. [6]

Leaving Kibigori, the line now travels due West to Miwani and then on to Kisumu.

Kibigori Station 1

Kibigori Railway Station (Google Maps)

Miwani 1

The Miwani Sugar Factory branch-line. [1]

Miwani Station building is shown below, the Sugar Factory branch-line left the mainline just to the East of the station and ran directly to the Sugar Factory. Subsidiary lines spread out at the factory to serve close-by cane fields. It is interesting to note that there were also a series of more temporary light tramway lines in use, as explained below.Miwani Railway Station Building. [7]

The route of the branch-line is shown on the satellite images that follow:

Miwani Station 1

Trains from the East were able to access the branch on a facing turnout/point (Google Maps).

 

Miwani Branch 2

The branch ran alongside the railway station approach road from the Sugar Factory and the C34 to the North, almost all the way to the Factory. The full length is not shown in these satellite images (Google Maps).

 

Miwani Branch 6

Immediately before reaching the factory sidings the line crossed the access road while turning towards the Northwest and was joined by one of the distribution lines from/to the cane fields (Google Maps)

 

Miwani Branch 7

The Miwani Sugar Factory. Its sidings were on its Northeast flank (Google Maps).

 

Miwani Branch 8

The approximate layout of the feeder lines to the Factory. These were supplemented by lighter tramways which are explained below (Google Maps).

Miwani Sugar Factory was once named the Victoria Nyanza Sugar Company and was one of the earliest plants of its kind in Kenya. The notes which follow are gleaned from a paper written by Godriver A. N. Wanga Odhiambo, “Colonial Sugar Production in Nyanza: (Kibos-Muhoroni) The Asian Initiative, The Genesis, and
Development of Kenya’s Sugar Industry, 1903-1963.” [10]

Given the problems of transporting sugar cane along relatively poor roads The Victoria Nyanza Sugar Company set up an alternative means of transport to the raods and the heavier metre-gauge lines. Large-wheeled metal containers were moved around the sugar cane estates on the Company’s own trolley or tramway lines. This network required its own ordinance, (the Victoria Tramway Ordinance No.1 of 1922). This ordinance was introduced specifically to enable the company to convey sugarcane from the neighboring farms to the factory on trolley lines which were drawn by small locomotives. [10: p205]

Wanga Odhiambo says that “a tramway was built in 1923 by the Victoria Nyanza Sugar Company, starting on its own estate and running along a line of a public road, and terminating at the Kibos railway station.” Wanga Odhiambo [10: p206] If this is correct, the trolley way would have followed the line of the C34 road which appears in the satellite images above and would probably have been an extension to the short length of line that appears on the satellite image above.

Wanga Odhiambo also comments that: “According to the agreement between the Victoria Nyanza Sugar Company and the railway, the company was allowed the use of the railway siding line from Miwani railway station to the company’s nearby sidings. This was meant to be used for light trolley conveyance; thus the railway provided the engine for use of the trolley.” [10: p206]

“Farmers were expected to allow feeder lines to be laid and maintained in their fields for transport of cane from the adjoining farms by extension of the feeder line. Farmers also had access to portable tramlines which were connected to the nearest mainline and when not in use these were removed and returned to the nearest mainline. This arrangement by the Kenya-Uganda Railway facilitated the transportation of cane from the farms to the factory, but again it could only help those farmers whose farms were near the railway line, since the feeder lines were not very long.” [10: p207] 

The cost of using the mainline was high and only 8 wagons were provided by the Uganda Railway per day for moving cane along the mainline. The result was quite an extended network of trolley lines being created to enable  cane to be transported to Miwani from as far away as Chemelil.

The majority of these tramways/trolleyways have left little evidence of their existence, they were light and easily moved and they were often moved to suit the needs of farmers.

References

  1. Modern versions of the 1:250,000 Map of Kenya can be sourced from a variety of online sales sites. This extract can be found on Map No. SA-36-04. 
  2. http://www.savetherailway.com/scenes, accessed on 24th May 2018.
  3. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/554083560377608216, accessed on 25th May 2018.
  4. http://www.mccrow.org.uk/eastafrica/eastafricanrailways/NairobiKisumu.htm, accessed on 22nd March 2021.
  5. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=248578828508174&story_fbid=3961245473908139, accessed on 24th March 2021.
  6. https://nation.africa/kenya/life-and-style/saturday-magazine/bitter-sweet-railway-tales-920850, accessed on 22nd March 2021
  7. http://lastdanceinkaloleni.co.ke/save-the-railway-exhbition/kenya-miwani-railway-station-1-of-1-4, accessed on 22nd March 2021.
  8. https://www.internationalsteam.co.uk/safari/kenya314.htm, accessed on 22nd March 2021.
  9. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Chemelil+Railway+Station/@-0.1059847,35.111779,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m8!1e2!3m6!1sAF1QipOswTA_nt0PRTN_1v6oYXNZrtHhPp95MV0Ifcm4!2e10!3e12!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipOswTA_nt0PRTN_1v6oYXNZrtHhPp95MV0Ifcm4%3Dw203-h270-k-no!7i1920!8i2560!4m5!3m4!1s0x182a85c2400ef241:0x40029cd4350e8b0a!8m2!3d-0.1059847!4d35.111779, accessed on 23rd March 2021.
  10. Godriver A. N. Wanga Odhiambo; Colonial Sugar Production in Nyanza: (Kibos-Muhoroni) The Asian Initiative, The Genesis, and Development of Kenya’s Sugar Industry, 1903-1963; West Virginia University; Chapter 5 p199-228; accessed via https://researchrepository.wvu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4567&context=etd, on 24th March 2021.

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 3A

The Canal Lock adjacent to Woodend Mills

While I was writing the second article about the Micklehurst Loop I was contacted by Keith Norgrove. He sent me two pictures which came from a cycle ride along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal Towpath in 1963, one of which was relevant to the length of the Loop covered by my first article. The second image showed the Canal with a view of the Micklehurst Loop including a train climbing towards Diggle with the Saddleworth Moors behind. [1] As far as I can tell, this location is adjacent to the Woodend Mills North of the centre of Mossley.

This picture was taken in 1963 by Keith Norgrove while he was on a cycle ride along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal towpath. The photograph predates by some years the renovation work which took place on the canal. At that time the lock alongside the Woodend Mills in Mossley has been allowed to become nothing mush more than a weir on the canal. This view of the old Micklehurst Loop is no longer available because of tree growth, but the Canal has been fully renovated. It has outlasted the Micklehurst Loop and now carries pleasure craft up to the tunnel at Diggle, (c) Keith Norgrove. [1]

Woodend Mills – were built by 1848 by Robert Hyde Buckley, close to his father’s mills. [8] These buildings made up an integrated cotton mill, built in several phases. Historic England say that they are “a near complete example of a first generation integrated cotton mill site, where both weaving and spinning processes were planned from the outset. Before this the two processes had been done on separate sites.” [3] 

The close association of mills in the immediate area can be seen on the aerial image below. The lock in the 1963 image above can be seen in front of Woodend Mills.

The layout of the mills as seen in 1947 from the air to the South. Winterford Road Bridge is on the right of the image. The lock in the 1963 photograph is immediately in front of Woodend Mills. [2]

An extract from the 25″ OS Maps showing Woodend Mills and the probable location from which Keith Norgrove took the 1963 picture. [4]

The lock adjacent to Woodend Mills. This picture is taken from a similar location to the one from 1963. The route of the Micklehurst Loop is hidden in the trees ahead. The Moor still looms large. [5]

Mossley Gas Works

Two additional pieces of information on the Gas Works:

First, from an email discussion forum

David Beilby on the IndustrailRailwaySociety@groups.io email discussion group quotes the following from a booklet on the inauguration of the new works by the Rt. Hon. The Earl of Derby K. G. on 22nd June 1931 about the Gas Works which feature in Part 3 of these articles about The Micklehurst Loop.

“The original gasworks was built by the Stalybridge Gas Company in 1862 and located alongside the canal. … In 1884 an agreement was made for the Corporation of Stalybridge and the Mossley Local Board to jointly purchase the company. The Mossley Local Board became Mossley Corporation when Mossley became a Borough in 1885 (and lost its status of being in three counties – Lancashire, Cheshire and Yorkshire). In addition to Mossley the works also supplied much of Saddleworth with gas as well. In 1925 the Borough’ Gas Engineer reported that the best way to improve the plant and increase output was to move to a new site, with rail access also removing the need to transport raw materials and by-products by road to Mossley station.” [6]

He also mentions that the booklet contains “details of a 2′-0” gauge line which was used to move excavated material from site to a central loading point whence it was conveyed by an “Breco” aerial ropeway to the tipping site, the ropeway being 720 yards long. The booklet notes that the railway was worked by petrol locomotives. No contractor is mentioned , despite many suppliers of equipment being acknowledged. It would seem the work was project managed in-house, certainly much of the design work is credited to the gas department.” [6]

“For information, the retorts were horizontal. … It was believed the cubic capacity of these retorts was the greatest in the world at the time. The works were, later, extended. This was anticipated at the design stage as the end wall of the retort house was built using corrugated asbestos.” [6]

“Wagons were unloaded using a rotary wagon tippler supplied by Messrs. Strachan and Henshaw of Bristol which had the patented “Whitehall” clamping mechanism.” [6]

Second from the Saddleworth Historical Society Bulletin

There is an article about the Gas Works in the Summer 1996 edition of the Saddleworth Historical Society Bulletin (Vol. 26, No. 2, p1-5). Sadly, the scanned .pdf of that edition of the bulletin on their website omits two of the 5 pages of the article. [7] The article is by Jeffrey Wells and includes a sketch plan of the Gas Works site. [7: p4]

Mossley Gas Works Sketch Plan, (c) Jeffrey Wells. [7: p4]

References

  1. Keith Norgrove is a contributor to the RMWeb Forum under the pseudonym ‘Grovenor’. Keith’s two pictures (one of which is included here) were a response to my articles about the Micklehurst Loop on that Forum: https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/161854-the-micklehurst-loop, accessed on 15th February 2021.
  2. https://britainfromabove.org.uk/en/image/EAW010809, accessed on 22nd February 2021.
  3. https://historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/education/educational-images/woodend-mill-manchester-road-mossley-8435, accessed on 25th February 2021.
  4. https://maps.nls.uk, accessed on 31st January 2021.
  5. http://www.penninewaterways.co.uk/huddersfield/hnc1.htm, accessed on 7th March 2021.
  6. https://groups.io/g/IndustrialRailwaySociety/topic/mossley_gas_works_locomotive/80968586?p=,,,20,0,0,0::recentpostdate%2Fsticky,,,20,2,0,80968586, accessed on 2nd March 2021.
  7. https://www.saddleworth-historical-society.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/vol26no2-2.pdf, accessed on 8th March 2021.

The Micklehurst Loop – Part 1D – Some Miscellaneous Items relating to the area around the Staley and Millbrook Goods Yard.

The Staley and Millbrook Goods Yard in the 21st century, (Google Maps).

Since publishing the first three articles about the Micklehurst Loop. I have had a trickle feed of comments, particularly about the Staley and Millbrook Goods Yard. This short addendum to the first article seeks to bring those items together in one place. It is the fourth addendum to that first post. [1][2]

The adjacent satellite image extracted from Google Maps satellite images shows the Goods Yard and notes some of the key features still on the site in the 21st century. For more comments, please see the notes which follow.

I visited the site again on 5th March 2021 and wandered around among the trees for over an hour.

There is an excellent survey of the Staley and Millbrook Goods Yard and the Hartshead Power Station on the website http://www.28dayslater.co.uk. A number of superb photographs have been collated there. [7]

Further Images of  BEA No. 2 0-4-0ST ‘BEANO’

Gerv Wright has kindly sent me two further images of BEA No. 2 0-4-0ST at the end of its working life in 1977 being prepared for and being transported off site. ‘Beano’ was its nickname!

BEA No 2, Jan 1977 (c) Gerv Wright. [3]

BEA No 2, Hartshead, Jan 1977 (c) Gerv Wright. Of additional interest in this picture is the backdrop. The view is taken from the Micklehurst end of the site In front of the good shed is the coal conveyor still apparently at its full extent. Also visible, to the left of the picture, is one of the lighting towers which feature later in this post. [3]

Yard Lights – Concrete Lighting Columns

An on-line acquaintance, Ben Hampson, sent me an image of the Goods Yard via a Facebook group, ‘The History of Mossley (Tameside)’. [4] That image is an excellent view across the site of the Goods Yard when it was still in use and shows three concrete lighting towers as well as the fireless loco in operation. At the back of the scene, the coal handling facilities, the conveyor and the goods shed can be seen peeking out of the gloom. Ben sourced that image via Gary Taylor on ‘The Real Mossley’ Facebook group. [10]

The Staley and Millbrook Goods Yard min operational days. Of interest are the lighting columns and the fireless locomotive, the goods shed, the coal handling facilities and the coal-conveyor, copyright unknown, sourced via Ben Hampson and Gary Taylor from ‘The Real Mossley’ Facebook Group. [11]

A visit to site on 6th March allowed me to see the three towers shown on the above image. These next three photographs were taken on 6th March. They show the towers and give an excellent idea of the appearance of the Yard in 2021!

This is tower No. 1 as identified on the satellite image at the start of this post. The small body of water can be made out immediately beyond the tower. (My photograph – 6th March 2021).

Tower No. 2 on the satellite image above. This photograph is taken from the top of the bank to the South east of the old yard and looks down on the Yard. (My photograph – 6th March 2021).

This photograph shows Tower No. 3 which is close to the remains of the engine shed. The photograph is again taken from the bank above the Yard, (My photograph – 6th March 2021).

The Engine Shed

Ben also asked why I had not included anything in previous posts about the Engine Shed which accommodated the two shunters which worked the site. My only excuse is that I walked past it without working out what it was. So, on 6th March a took a bit of time to pick it out and take photographs.

Reddit.com carries a monochrome photograph of the fireless loco exiting the engine shed, which appears to have been sourced from the Transport Library. I am not certain of the copyright position on this image, so was not planning to include it here, however, when I copy and paste the link it automatically embeds in this post. Clicking on the image takes you directly to the source. [6][8]

Hartshead Power Station owned two locomotives for shunting the yard accessed via the Micklehurst Loop, both are mentioned in the text above. I believe that the 0-4-0ST stands on one of the lanes giving access to the engine shed which is off this image to the left, (c) J. Sutherland. [9]

The next few images are pictures taken on 6th March 2021 which show the engine shed as it is is the 21st century.

This first panorama shows the site of the engine shed from the bank above the old Goods Yard close to the lighting tower (no. 3 above), (My photograph – 6th March 2021.

This second panorama shows the site of the engine shed from track-bed level, (My photograph – 6th March 2021).

A closer shot of the Engine Shed from track-bed level. The churned ground in the foreground is typical of much of the Goods Yard site, which appears to have been used recently as an off-road vehicle playground, (My photograph – 6th March 2021).

Demolition of the Chimneys and Cooling Towers at the Power Station.

A short section of the video below (from 15 minutes to 17 minutes into the video) shows the demolition of the Cooling Towers and Chimneys of Hartshead Power Station. [12]

References

  1. Previous posts relating to the first length of the Micklehurst Loop can be found at: https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/01/31/the-micklehurst-loop-part-1 https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/02/05/the-micklehurst-loop-part-1a https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/02/15/the-micklehurst-loop-part-1b https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/02/18/the-micklehurst-loop-part-1c-including-hartshead-power-station
  2. Other articles relating to the further lengths of the Micklehurst Loop can be found at: https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/02/21/the-micklehurst-loop-part-2 https://rogerfarnworth.com/2021/02/22/the-micklehurst-loop-part-3
  3. These images were sent by email on 25th February 2021 and are included by kind permission of Gerv Wright.
  4. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1469097430050445, accessed on 5th March 2021.
  5. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10157847336918314&set=p.10157847336918314&type=3, accessed on 5th March 2021.
  6. https://www.reddit.com/r/trains/comments/ieer3s/steam_locomotive_coming_out_of_an_engine_shed_at, accessed on 7th March 2021.
  7. https://www.28dayslater.co.uk/threads/hartshead-power-station-and-the-millbrook-sidings.126098, accessed on 7th March 2021.
  8. For further information on copyright issues, please see: https://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/12/16/copyright.
  9. A check on the copyright of these images on the J.W. Sutherland Collection Site (http://sutherland.davenportstation.org.uk) has been undertaken – they are free to use provided the photographer is credited.
  10. https://www.facebook.com/groups/296935657118919, accessed on 7th March 2021.
  11. https://www.facebook.com/groups/296935657118919/permalink/2508654999280296, accessed on 7th March 2021.
  12. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PXDtZgymfa8, accessed on 16th March 2021.

 

John 2:13-22 – Jesus in the Temple.

Have you ever experienced what it is like to be an outsider? The first time I went to Uganda in 1994, I had people’s warnings ringing in my ears. “Be careful travelling on the buses.” … “Everyone’ll be out to get what they can from you.” “Don’t walk around on your own at night.” I also had had my own fears about going to a different culture. And, yes, I did feel like an outsider. I was white, everyone else was black. I was treated like an oddity because I was different. A reversal of what many black and Asian people felt in coming here.

You may have experienced something like this – perhaps joining a new club, going to a new job, or a new town/city, going to the hospital for the first time. Unease in unfamiliar surroundings is something many of us experience. Often it isn’t helped by the way that those in the know, those who already belong, behave.

What would it have felt like as a Gentile coming into the temple in Jerusalem for the first time? An unfamiliar place with strange customs. It can’t be too hard to imagine some of the confusion and uncertainty that any Gentile must have felt.

The temple had its barriers even at the best of times – there was the Holy of Holies at the centre – where only God and the occasional male priest could go, next, separated by a richly embroidered curtain was the Holy Place where offerings to God were left by the priests (all of whom were male), next was the court where the altar sat – Jewish men were welcome here – then there was an outer court where Jewish women were allowed, and out beyond this – in the outermost court of the temple Gentiles were permitted. The temple system reinforced these divides, both gender and nationality. A place that was intended to proclaim God’s welcome had become a place where barriers obstructed access to God.

No doubt the Temple was a place of familiarity and comfort for those who attended regularly, particularly Jewish men. Everything had a structure and a place – it was somewhere safe and secure. But those very structures created barriers for others and a hierarchy of access to God. Rather than seeing the different outer courts as places of welcome for the outsider, Jews began to see those courts of lesser significance – and the Gentile Court, rather than being a place for worship, had become a place of business. The place where Gentiles could worship had become a market place.

In our reading, Jesus erupts into this outer court, turning over tables and setting animals and birds free. And his comment in Mark’s version of the story reinforces his concern for the outsider; “It is written,” he says “God’s house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The temple, says Jesus, is not to be a barrier to worship but a place of worship. The way the temple is run, the way things are done, needs to draw in the outsider.

Later, Matthew’s Gospel tells us that, at the moment of Jesus death, the curtain in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom – opening the path for everyone directly into God’s presence. No longer could anyone justify barriers which restricted access to God.

The Jews had allowed their place of worship to become a place that created barriers between God and those who came seeking him.

These short verses In John’s Gospel seem like a window into what it was like in the temple in Jesus’ day. But they are not a window, they are a mirror allowing us to see what we are like, they are a direct challenge to us:

How open are we to welcoming the outsider? Are we as welcoming as we think? What barriers do we place between God and those who seek him? Are we no better than the temple authorities?

How hard is it for new people to get their heads around our liturgy? How keen are we to have people in our services who don’t know what to do? What do we do to help those who are new? In a lot of our churches you can tell who is new … the regulars pick the seats at the back of church. I’m not sure why we see those as the best, but we hardly ever sit on the front row, do we. Often a guest will come into church and see the front seats clear and chose to sit there – anywhere else they’d be the best seats! It is only once the service starts that they realise their mistake – which bit of paper am I supposed to look at now, which book, do I stand or sit at this point in the service? Our guests end up feeling embarrassed. …. Is it any surprise that they choose not to return?

What happens after our services? Who talks to whom? Who seeks to include the outsider? One of our previous suffragan bishops, told a story about his wife Early in his ministry in the Diocese of Manchester he attended one church to preach and his wife went with him. At the end of the service she went to get her coffee and was very politely served and then she stood to one side, quietly drinking her coffee, and no one spoke to her.

When the Bishop introduced her to a few people, one woman said, “If only I’d known you were the Bishop’s wife, I’d have come over to talk to you.”

I wonder whether she had any real idea what she had just said about her own, and her church’s, attitude to the outsider.

How do we respond when children are noisy? How do we cope if someone sits in our regular seat? Do you have baptisms in your main church service? If so, what do you feel about Baptism families? Are we quicker to comment that they are bound not to return – rather than to welcome them, understanding just how alien the service must feel to them? How welcome do we make people feel? Are we really as helpful and welcoming as we=d like to think we are? We need to try to imagine what a newcomer sees and feels as they enter our buildings.

These short verses in our reading challenge each of us to take a step back to look at we do in God’s church, God’s temple. To try to look at what we do through the eyes of the outsider.

Jesus gave priority to the Gentile, to the outsider. He explodes in anger over the ugly barriers that religious people had created almost without thinking.

If nothing else, these short verses in our reading demonstrate that Jesus longs that we and all his followers will give priority, not to our own hopes and desires, but to those of our community and the wider world. Priority to drawing them into relationship with God.