Between the furrows
From Course 26 onwards
Construction of Hale Dam, 1975-76
Warwick Hale of Bramfield Place married Sue in 1963 and she continued working in Gwebi admin and as PA to Rodney Mundy for a few more years. Warwick described how the project came about to Colin Lowe:
"My father, Ian Hale, had this concept of the Hale Dam right from the time he bought the farm Bramfield Place which was originally called Nalire. This purchase was in 1951. This farm was directly across the Gwebi River from Gwebi College and the idea was to build a large dam wall from an existing outcrop that partially spanned the river. Windmill (Pvt) Ltd bought St. Marnocks farm from the Douglas family in the early 1970’s and through their good offices it became possible to raise sufficient finance to undertake the large project. The Hale Dam Syndicate was formed to build the dam in 1975. Windmill took 42% of the shareholding in this company with Hale Farming another 42% and the remainder being 15% to Derek Belinsky of Arden Park Farm, and 1% to Ned Henwood of Sigaro Farm. The government as represented by Gwebi College were offered a share but they declined.
"Construction started in 1976 and the contractors were Hooper and Stopforth with Peter Hooper being the operations manager. The construction of the dam was soon in trouble because of the swampy nature of the riverbed. In those days back-acters were not available and bulldozers had to be used to clear the mud from the base. There was a time when there were over twenty bulldozers on site! In the end a D4 was attached to D6’s on either side of the river and it was dragged backwards and forwards like a squeegee to clear the liquid mud. A substantial concrete spillway was constructed and the dam filled in the 1977 season. There were numerous cost overruns with the engineer Mr Jerry Wall appearing at one site meeting to state that the projected scheme cost had doubled since he first estimated. The spillway was increased with a concrete abutment and in the late 1980’s the capacity of the dam was doubled to 1500 million gallons.
"At the same time Hale Farming bought St. Marnocks giving it, by 1990, sufficient water for 600 hectares of full irrigation. During 1990 centre pivots were introduced to Bramfield and St. Marnocks when the greater efficiency of water usage enabled an even larger hectarage to be irrigated. Pump stations had been constructed both above and below the dam wall and these were increased in size at these stages. As far as Hale Farming was concerned a Wheat/Soya rotation was introduced with some success. Potatoes and other smaller production also took place from the dam."
As related to Colin Lowe.
The farms were jambanjered in 2002 and the new inhabitants damaged the spillway. It has not been repaired so the dam has only 50% capacity. The government takes water for the college.
David Holman (Course 26).
Dave married Anne Hill in December 1979 and has three children. He lost the farm in May 2004 and is employed at Binga Crocodile Farm.
Vale Tommy Millar (Course 26).
Thomas Campbell Millar lost his battle to cancer on the 4th of August 2018 aged 63. He was born on 16 April 1955. This is a great loss of yet another of our most outstanding and experienced farmers.
Tommy attended Umtali Boys High School and as well as being a school prefect and Head of Palmer House, he captained the 1st XI cricket and represented the school at rugby and athletics.
Tommy enrolled at Gwebi College of Agriculture in 1975 and graduated with Course 26. He captained the Cricket Team and was awarded Rugby, Athletics and Cricket Colours having been picked for Mashonaland Districts Cricket and Rugby.
He was a well-known dairy, sheep stud breeder and crop farmer becoming a leading personality in the Beatrice area. Sadly he lost a large portion of his property through acquisition and even though court orders and promises were never adhered to he simply soldiered on, being a typical farmer of his calibre, who just made a plan to continue farming on other portions of whichever available land he could find. Nothing ever seemed to weaken his indomitable spirit, which kept him going through difficult times. He served on many committees and boards connected to agriculture and his commitment on all of these was greatly respected. This notable and energetic character in our industry will be greatly missed by all but will certainly not be easy to forget as he has left a fantastic legacy.
Tributes from S Lunderstedt and CFU
Kevin "Spook" Moor (Course 26)
Spook has posted several blogs about Gwebi:
'Gwebi Agricultural College, Part 1'
'College of Knowledge and legends of my time'
'College of Knowledge and legends, Part 2'
'College days at the College of Knowledge'
'Billy and Flash, Flash and Billy'
Group photos (Course 26) Displayed by Kevin Moor on 'Spook Moor a rambling blog' with credit to Ken Worsley:
David McGillivray (Course 27).
David spent 14 years in Malaysia and Singapore in a number of stipendiary roles. This was followed with 11 years in South Africa with the National Horseriding Authority which included spells as Chairman of both the Central Provinces and the Western Cape Stipendiary Boards. In 2013 he was appointed Racing Control Executive.
Presently residing in Malaysia, David is Chief Steward at Qatar Racing & Equestrian Club.
Henry W. Bosman (Course 29).
Henry completed his schooling at Prince Edward and enrolled at Gwebi with Course 29. He excelled at ploughing and graduated in 1979. He was also awarded the Lilford Medal for Leadership and Example.
He ran Argyle Park at Matepatepa until 2003 when he moved to Australia. Henry was in Mount Gambier in South Australia producing cherries and lemons on Greengyle Orchards then was mixed farming on Greenbanks Farm. He moved to Cunnamulla in Queensland to be Agricultural Manager for R M Williams Agricultural Holdings in 2010 where he ran a centre pivot for winter and summer cropping with cattle and sheep. He was General Manager of Inglewood Farms then Inglewood Poultry Farm until 2014.
Henry is Farm Manager/Consultant of KEPCO Bylong Australia in NSW.
Pete Botha (Course 29).
Pete was Farm Manager for ten years in Zimbabwe involved with tobacco, maize and beef then with irigated tobacco, wheat, cotton, beef, sheep and broiler production in South Africa.
From 1994 he was a forest contractor for SAPPI Forests, MONDI Forests and HL&H. He was Division Manager at Nyanga Pine for the Wattle Company back in Zimbabwe for a year.
Pete headed to Indonesia working with pulpwood harvesting, wood supply and wood prcessing management roles with Riau Andalun Pulp & Paper from 1996. Two years were spent consulting in Jakarta then working on special projects for Asia Pulp & Paper. Pete was Country Manager for JCB from 2007 and stayed in Central Jakarta to become principal consultant for URS. He was appointed Director Estates with SIPEF Group in Sumatera.
in 2013 he moved to Australia as a Business Development Executive in Toowoomba then spent seven years as oil palm and agricultural consultant with FAC Consulting (Singapore) in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Since May 2017, Pete has been Regional Manager with Auscarbon based in Morawa in Western Australia. Auscarbon is commited to carbon removal by planting biodiverse forest "carbon sinks".
Martin Mead (Course 29).
Martin completed a Certificate in Agriculture in Cotton Production at the University of New England in 2004. He was Farm Manager of Latoka and Longmeadows Farms in Bourke, NSW for Clyde Agriculture for four years. During this time, he graduated with a B Bus (Ag Man) from Marcus Oldham College.
For two years Martin was Farming Manager in Oakey, Queensland, with Acland Pastoral Company.
Since 2010 he has been with Auscott Limited in the Namoi Valley, New South Wales. He started as a Farm Manager, then was promoted to Assistant General Manager in 2013 and to General Manager of Namoi Valley Operations in 2015.
Charles Lock (Course 33).
Charles was born in 1962 and raised in Macheke and is number five of six children to Tim and Mollie Lock. Charles went to Macheke, Godfrey Huggins Primary, Hartmann House and St. George’s College. He completed Gwebi then travelled the States for six months before settling down to helping his father on the farm for a few years. After saving a bit of money he went to the UK to play minor County cricket. One thing led to another and he managed to land a job with Rothmans International as a Projects Development Manager, answering to another Zimbabwean Dr. Henry Papenfus. He was based at Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. He travelled extensively all over the world, particularly to Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet system. After six years he returned to Zimbabwe and started an Agricultural Consulting Company operating mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. In 1998 he married Ellen Fischer daughter of Gill and Anthony Fischer from Headlands. They had four children, Richard, Rebecca, Olivia and Jeremy.
Charles has two sisters Helen and Emma and his three brothers George, Martin and Andrew all of which still reside in Zimbabwe with their mother Mollie now aged 97 and still “with it”. His father Tim died in 2000, a few days after the birth of his granddaughter Olivia, named after the farm on which he got his first job after emigrating from the UK shortly after the Second World War. Granny Mollie has 18 grand children and one great grandchild.
In 2000 and with the onset of the land invasions Charles focused his efforts on his farming operations in Mount Darwin. In 2003 these where taken over and he moved to the Fischer family farm to attempt to retain the unit which had been in the family for four generations. After a protracted and violent conflict lasting six years in which he was evicted three times, Charles and the family where forced off like so many others and started re-building their lives in Harare.
Charles gained employment with Northern Tobacco and he also established a Company that imported and sold specialized agricultural equipment. Charles and Ellen got divorced in 2017 and he currently continues with Northern Tobacco running the grower contracting scheme.
A keen cricket and tennis player he represented Zimbabwe in cricket playing in the World Cup in 1996 and subsequent test matches. His interests are now mainly cycling (road), tennis, trout fishing, gardening and skiing in the Alps with his family occasionally.
In September 2018, Old Gwebians Alastair Paterson and Peter Dick took a tour to Gwebi. They met Dr William Matizha the Principal and his delightful secretary Ms Sinikiwe Chijoko. “They had both started at Gwebi around 1995 so had many years of experience. We were so pleased that they were only too available to work with us. Unfortunately the tour around the college was devastating. The Engineering practicals did not operate, as told to us by the son of Phineas (driver in our time) who stated that the students could not drive a tractor. We asked about Kampholo and of course he had sadly passed on but we visited his livestock section and were very disappointed. The magnificent dairy herd which was the top grade Friesland herd in Zimbabwe now consisted of eight scrub cattle. Our optimism was now diminished. However, there were four centre pivots watering magnificent stands of wheat. These were on Broadbalk and Gwebi South. Also on Gwebi South were excellent vegetable plots. We found out that these were all being run by the Chinese who seem to have taken over most of the ‘good’ areas of Gwebi.
“We realised that something must have happened to bring Gwebi to its knees and Dr. Matizha mentioned that in his early days there were over 1,000 applicants to Gwebi and they could only take about 100. Now that the Government decided to have colleges in all provinces his applications were equivalent to his normal intake of 100.”
Another Old Gwebian, Colin Lowe visited Gwebi for a Course 16 reunion in 2014 and many were disappointed at how threadbare the College had become. “Actually, there’s a very simple explanation – the Principal, Dr. Matizha, told us that for many years the Government had given them no funding at all – not a cent. Most of you will remember those horrendous roadblocks that the Police mounted throughout the country which initially started with the instruction from the Police Headquarters, ‘If you want your salaries go and collect them from fines at the roadblocks.’ Well, the Gwebi Principal was faced with much the same problem when the Ministry of Finance told him, ‘Sorry, there’s no funding for Gwebi, if you want finances for running expenses go and sell your livestock and grow some crops.’”
This takes me back to 1977 when I was promoted to take over the Animal Husbandry Section. This coincided with the first time that there were any controls on spend for running the farm at the College as Government’s coffers were under pressure. I averaged purchases over the previous three years from the requisition books that were in the corner of the office. I was relieved that my allocation matched current spending so I could quite simply give each unit - beef, dairy, pigs, sheep and poultry their own budget for vet, stock and feed that was based on history so was lucky that belt tightening was not required during my tenure.
Mike Bellis, Course 24, visited the college in 2017 and took these photos:
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