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Weal House History

Harrison House in the 1980's


For many years the EAWL had been hoping and planning for some land and a building of its own in Nairobi. This hope crystallized into a plan when Mrs. Anderson, President of the League, put forward the scheme for a residential Club as a home for pioneer women. Soon after the resolution "that the time had come when the League should consider a home for the pioneer women of Kenya” had been passed Mrs. Ethel Harrison offered the EAWL her house and grounds in 3rd Ngong Avenue as a gift in trust for this purpose, to be known as Harrison House. Mrs. Harrison was herself a pioneer, for she came to Kenya in 1904, and the house she offered as a memorial to her husband had been her home since 1911,


This wonderful gift allowed the League to start at once on the Weal House scheme. No one did more than Mrs. Anderson to promote this scheme her own particular "baby". She traveled the length and breadth of the country, sometimes accompanied by her breathless Vice Presidents, and spoke to branches about the Weal House project and the work of the League as a whole. As a result, she gained the wholehearted support of all members. Each branch was asked to guarantee £500 towards the cost of the extensions (pictured to the left) and many in the end contributed much more. Building of the extension began in 1957. Meanwhile some of the rooms in the main house were already occupied. In 1958 the new rooms in the extension were ready for occupation.

The Government in 1957 in recognition of its many years of voluntary work, for the second phase of the Weal House scheme, generously gave a vacant plot of land next to Harrison House to the EAWL.


There was no Grand Opening ceremony. Harrison House is a quiet place, and the money for it was raised quietly. The Catering Committee, cutting sandwiches at the RASK Show, earned neatly Shs. 40,000 towards it. The Branches held jumble sales, garden parties, fetes and dances. Gradually the capital sum paid off, and tile rooms were occupied. Each room is called by the name of a Branch of the League. The ladies of Harrison House are very much apart of the EAWL, and continue, as much as they are able, to help in League activities, such as providing tea and biscuits for meetings and wrapping up magazines for postage overseas.

A committee of League members, headed by the National Chairman, administers Harrison House.




The second phase of the Weal House Scheme, inaugurated by Mrs. Anderson in 1957, was completed in 1964. Four self-contained flats for married couples were built in the grounds of Harrison House, and opened by Mrs. Johnson on July 1st 1964. (Right: Members at the opening of the Weal House Flats, 2nd from the Right is Mrs. Anderson).



“After fifty-two years of paying rent and moving around" the EAWL at last got its own permanent building, a club for its members, and a home for its administrative work. This was the final phase of the Weal House Scheme. Erected on the plot below Harrison House, the finance for this project came from the sale of the Teenage and Holiday Club in 1966.


The building consists of offices and a boardroom grouped round an airy patio and a fine assembly hall with a stage. There is also a spacious kitchen and the "usual offices". The building was opened by the Lady Sidney Farrar, MBE, a past President and officer of the League for twenty-six years. At her suggestion, the Assembly Hall was named "Anderson Hall" to commemorate the vision, enterprise and hard work of Mrs. Jean Anderson, to which the League owes the whole complex of buildings on the Harrison House site. Plaques commemorating this occasion are on the wall of the patio and of Anderson Hall. Miss Margaret Kenyatta attended the first meeting of Council in its own hall.


The plight of the elderly and infirm people with no accommodation was not only a problem in Nairobi. A Combined Committee, with members from other charitable societies, the Salvation Army, the St. Georges and Caledonian Societies, was formed when Mrs. Ann Palmer was National Chairman. As a result of its work similar committees were formed in outlying districts. The Nanyuki Cottage Hospital was extended, the Ngowe House Scheme started at Malindi (Left), Sunset Lodge at Mombasa was extended, and four rooms were converted at Harrison House to care for the infirm.

Harrison House Today

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