Help! "British East Africa Corporation"?? Old Africa hands

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by caubeen, Apr 1, 2007.

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  1. Can anyone with a knowledge of East Africa, or the former British institutions thereof, tell me if there was ever such as setup as the British East Africa Corporation? And, if so, where its archives may be located?

    I'm trying, along with others, to trace the background of several sporting rifles dating from the 1920s-30s. All have "Made for BEA Corp" engraved on the barrel; and since all are in, or came from, East Africa, it seems fair to assume that it signifies British East Africa Corp[oration]. We'd like to know the background to any contract that may have been placed for the supply of these rifles.

    They are pretty well identical, all in 7x64mm Brenneke calibre - a good round for plains game - and were made by Waffen Frankonia of Germany. WF's records for the period are gone, it seems; and an enquiry to the FCO has only met with a "holding" acknowledgement.

    A biggish raft of former East African game wardens, DCs and the like haven't been able to help so far - but maybe someone on ARRSE can.

    Thanks in anticipation.
  2. The only direction I can think may be helpful would be towards Kenya. I'm an old Tanganyikan; my father was KAR/Groundnut scheme/Colonial service there, and I can't remember any mention of a BEA Corporation there during my youth. There obviously was one:

    -but what it was or did I can't help you with, although I expect it would be in the sisal/palm oil/agricultural sort of field.

    ps Try the Crown Agents. They're a gang of deeply stupid 'diversity'-led pillocks now, but in years past they held the reins of powerful horses.
  3. VMT. I've asked Bruce Kinloch and John Mills, both former chief game wardens of (I think) Kenya, and they had never heard of it. Nor had Jonny Niblett (former Rowland Ward measurer for Tz). Blank faces among all of that generation.

    I have a pal in Nairobi who's a patents lawyer, and he ought to know where to look there, and is kindly going to have a go for us.

    I thought ARRSE might just conceivably draw out some clue . . .
  4. It was, according to the limited online sources, a cotton and commodity trading outfit. There are 9 references on google, several of which are concealed in an online academic journal bank. I've got access to that, and the pieces aren't particularly helpful - it suggests that the corporation was another of those large imperial trading concerns.
  5. Corporation? I always thought it was the British East Africa Company. *Shrug*
  6. IIRC, the Imperial British East Africa Company was subsumed into the colonial administration after it appeared that the company was going to go bust. This was pre WW1.

    Having burrowed a bit more -

    "In 1947 Mitchell Cotts acquired the British East Africa Corporation, one of the pioneer trading firms in East Africa. The BEA Co. was founded in 1906, and was involved initially in cotton ginning in Uganda and estate agriculture in Kenya and Tanganyika. The firm soon developed a broader import and export trade, but lost money in the inter-war period and went into liquidation in 1939. It was reconstructed in the same year and thereafter conducted a more restricted business, concentrating on shipping consumer goods to East Africa."

    (Given the context, I'm assuming that the 'Co.' abbreviation is for corporation rather than company.)

    From AG Hopkins, 'Imperial Business in Africa: Part I, Sources' Journal of African History Vol 17 No.1 (1976) p.44
  7. Many thanks for this - much appreciated.

    We've written to the Crown Agents, and also got a Nairobi-based solicitor to pursue it there. It will be interesting to see what emerges.
  8. Many thanks.

    The "Company" and the "Corporation" seem to have been separate entities so far as we can make out, although quite how they differed isn't clear yet. These rifles are specifically marked as "Made for BEA Corp", so - in the absence of any surviving archives at Waffen Frankonia - that's where we're going to try and look first.