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   Prince of Wales School - 1932

Prince of Wales School - 1932

Thanks to Ron Bullock who supplied the photo, given to him by H.K."Pop" Binks
(see below)

Image of POW 1932
The Prince of Wales School, designed by the renowned architect Sir Herbert Baker

  • Ron Bullock remembers "Pop" Binks with great affection:
    Pop was probably the most interesting person I ever knew. He went to Kenya in 1900 and left only twice during the remainder of his life. The last time was in 1951 when he was entertained for a week by the Astronomer Royal on the occasion of the RAS's award of honorary life membership to him for his contributions to astronomy. He was a largely self-educated man who turned his hand to many things - a number of his inventions in aerial photography were adopted by the RAF in WWII, a helicopter patent was bought up by Westland Aircraft (but to suppress it, much to his annoyance!!). He ground his own lenses, silvered his own mirrors for his observatory. He developed an airfoil wing and towed a large model down 6th Ave (ie Delamere) behind his motor bike in 1908. It lay rotting in his garden and he claimed that the design was picked up by a fellow called Fokker during a hunting safari in 1913. I never tried to verify this story. I could go on, but suffice it to say that I spent many happy Sundays there when on exeat.

    Pop and "Binkie's" son, Paul, was one of the first students at POW, but died at age 17 in the late 1930s; they also lost a daughter in her teens. Too sad, but it's no doubt one reason they loved having young visitors.

    Pop died in 1971 and is buried in City Park cemetery. I happened to be in Nairobi and visited him in hospital the day before he died. They woke him up over my protest (I suppose they knew he was not going to be long with us). He couldn't speak, couldn't hear, but I wrote on his pad - "Ronald Bullock from Canada". The old glint came into his eye as he replied "Lots of good grazing in Canada!" He went back to sleep and the next day he was gone, aged 91. His burial was attended by just a couple of old friends, and his former African servants were in the majority; it was a rather poignant scene as they laid their little posies of wild flowers on the grave.

    All of Pop's stuff went to the Kenya National Archives, but from what I heard, nearly everything was lost during a flood in the basement of the archives. Anyway, there's a collection called H.K. Binks. Perhaps it contains more POW stuff? If the story about the flood is true, it would be a great tragedy for Kenya's historical photo archives, because he had been photographing everything since about 1907 until his business burned down in 1945/46. First race meet, first Legco etc, etc.

    Below, a picture of Pop Binks, taken by his wife - probably early 50s. Also one of his pictures of the moon. Below the pictures, some more fact about the life of "Pop".

      Image of H.K. 'Pop' Bink       Image of Moon 3rd Quarter - by H.K. 'Pop' Binks

  • Ron Bullock writes:
    One of "Pop's" books is African Rainbow (Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd, London). I have a first edition published in 1959. It is in two parts, 'The Adventures of a Pioneer' and 'The Great Rift Valley'. I looked into part 2 many years ago. It was a rather bizarre venture into geology, and I'm afraid his geology was not as good as some of his other science, particularly when he mixed it with biblical matters! And so I never even looked at the first part until today (11th Feb 2003). It is not memorable, although there are a number of interesting passages in the earlier part of the book. It confirms that he completed his apprenticeship to a dispensing chemist in Wakefield and then set out to reach what he imagined to be easy pickings in the gold fields of Rhodesia. He was disabused of these prospects on the boat and his attention turned to what appeared to be better prospects in Uganda rubber. Of this he was disabused after landing in Mombasa.

    It seems he arrived in Nairobi in February of 1900, aged 20, and went on up to a mission station at Kikuyu. For five years or so, he tried farming, helped by at least one transfer of funds from his father. One day he went into Nairobi and found the place all dressed up for an important visitor (he says Chamberlain). He borrowed a camera, took six plates, developed them overnight and had the product for sale next day. He says he came out with a 48 rupee profit, the first money he ever made in EA. So he sold the farm and took to accompanying American safaris during the season, September to March. The rest of the book, apart from the geology at the end is a somewhat average account of this and that safari, including some elephant hunting on his own account.

    One line made me wonder about the camera in the photo (above): "At that moment the air pressure drive of the camera had decided to pack up, and I was compelled to operate the contraption by hand crank from a tripod". Could this be the one? In any event, he says, his hand action attracted the attention of the rhino, which evidently charged and struck the tripod, but without damage to the camera.