The ‘Guildford Castle’ spent January 31st at anchor off Tilbury and inching passed the Isle of Wight on the morning of February 1st, the fog. lifted. By coincidence, on the same day separated by 92 years, that my grandmother Emilie May Sutton started her journey, we’ll start ours. That’s the only similarity in the journey.
It took another 25 more days before Emilie May reached Mombasa, and a further two before the train pulled in to Nairobi station at 12:30. We will fly for 8 hrs in the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, we will queue for quite some time to be fingerprinted and processed into Kenya. My grandmother’s arrival was altogether better:
‘The entrance to Mombasa is quite one of the most beautiful things I’ve see, and I feel it quite useless to try to descript it. Anyway, we steamed right up to the land – so close, that I could recognize Joyce on her verandah, and was almost certain of Fred in a car. Then we turned sharp left, and kept close in under the land and cars and motor bikes kept level with us round the side of the island. We finally anchored off Kilindini, and at once the doctor’s launch came alongside, followed immediately by the Police one. I could see Fred sitting in it, and then he came on board, exactly after Capt. Scott Higgins, who is the Policeman. Oh, it was quite too wonderful. We went to the cabin – etc!!! The rest is left to your imagination. Anyway it was only about 7 o’clock when he came on board. We had plenty of time, and got my emigration form and passport done.’
Emilie May’s letter to her father on 25th February 1924
We queued for over an hour at immigration and were very thankful to meet the lady from the Norfolk Hotel and leave the airport. Travel is faster these days, but it has certainly lost its romance and much of its appeal. Since Emilie May spent her first night in Nairobi at The Norfolk so it seems fitting that we should too.
On 1st March 1924, Emilie May Sutton married Frederick Chater Jack at St John’s Church, Parklands. The wedding had been delayed by the fog in Tilbury. The reception and photographs was at The Norfolk Hotel. It’s still one of the best hotels in Nairobi.