Life in Kuwait back in the 1950s – Part 2

Post by Mark

Life in Kuwait back in the 1950s is a series of posts on simple things from life back then that many people might have forgotten or not even have known about.
If you missed the first part click [Here].

This is
Life in Kuwait back in the 1950s – Part 2
by John Beresford

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rugby

Kuwait Rugby Football Club – the first ‘Oval Ball’
My father, Paul Beresford, is doing the crowning. Photo probably taken 1949-1952. As the club house was a large nissen hut, it was held elsewhere – probably in the guest house as the Hubara Club was not built at this time. The club colours were black and amber hoops with black shorts ( alternate strip was red and white hoops with white shorts, if you had them). Note the set of rugby goal posts framing the crowning.

divingboard

Old Diving Board, Fintas, 1953
Fintas was a few huts and really just an area rather than a settlement. It was north of Fahaheel. From google maps it is now completely built up. Later on KOC fenced off a Families Beach just south of the North Pier. There were also beaches at the SBOA – Small Boat Owners’ Association and the CYC – Cumberland Yacht Club, just south of the South Pier and north of the Shaiba complex, that always smelled of sulphur. These were within the perimeter of the Mina Al Ahmadi complex.

rolling

Ahmadi, 1959
Me rolling around some of the Swedish prefabricated houses. The caption on the back says ‘John rolling round the Swedish houses’. I might have been driving it slowly. After all, it is a small roller, it wouldn’t go very fast, and there is nothing round to be hit so I might have been driving it. I don’t remember.

There are no eucalyptus trees in the photo. These were planted along every road with a hollow around the base of the trunk and the earth scooped into a circular wall around it. A lot of houses had tamarisk trees planted along the perimeter to lessen the wind and to give some shade. A lot of the roads around Ahmadi had pavements – hardly anyone walked along them as it was too hot. I remember once where the temperature got to 178 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun – 81.2 degrees c. the swimming pool in the Hubara Club was measured at about 108 degrees f (42 degrees c). I got out at 105 – no-one was swimming, we were all floating around like jellyfish. The water was above blood temperature and just warmed you up and we all became so lethargic. Since then I have wondered why a hot bath does not seem to have the same effect.

Yet I also remember once at the KOC Anglo American School, which only took children up to the age of 13 – there was a very limited choice of schooling in Kuwait at the time and KOC gave parents a grant to send children to boarding school back in the UK – all of us kids were grouped in the playground around a tap that had been dripping, and a large icicle had formed – it was the first we had seen. I caught the bus at 07:10 to go to school and we came home for lunch at 11:30. Dad arrived, and went back to work at about 12:15, and would be back at home at 16:30. At about 12:15 I got the bus back to school and was back at home at 15:30. In the middle of the morning we had break, and there would be a metal container of hot cocoa for us to drink, every day, whether it was summer or winter. It was piping hot and we were given enamel cups to drink from. These got too hot to use so the first children used to take 2 cups and pour the cocoa from one cup to the other in order to cool it down, which meant that half of the children got no cocoa at all. It was so hot – if you drank it immediately it did burn your lips. Of course, whether you really want a cup of hot cocoa in summer in Kuwait is a moot point. It was probably something about being British.

pickup

Paul with old Ford V-8 pick up #899, 1954
The seat looks to be really low relative to the window as Dad was about 5’10”. Looks like it would have made a fun little hot-rod.

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End of part 2


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44 comments, add your own...


  1. gabby says:

    thanks for the 2nd part love reading it…

  2. superfailz says:

    Best days — when Kuwait was moving into glory and prosperity — sadly the daeshis destroyed most of it, glad they have been exposed recently.

  3. Chris says:

    awesome

  4. Robyn says:

    Love reading about and seeing photos of Kuwait in the past.

  5. Susan says:

    Loved reading this, bought back some memories of Kuwait and
    Anglo -American school – especially the cocoa!! I was there in 1957-9. Remember the Hubara club?

  6. Heather Ainsworth says:

    My goodness all these memories I remember everything .We all played with our donkeys after school .Everything centred round the Club Friday curry , Tombola I loved my life then. My sister was born in Magwa and I had my appendix out there.

    • Allister Parlane says:

      Wonderful happy memories. Is that you heather, sister of Roz? It’s Allister Parlane here from Ahmadhi, would like to catch up with you, thinking about happier times in Kuwait. Im still living on the west coast of Scotland, boys all grown up. My email allisterparlane100@gmail.com.

      • Paddy O'Shaughnessy says:

        Hi Allistair, I was a friend of your brother Maurice during the 50s. We lived above you on 22nd street and Maurice was in my class at the Anglo American school. Hope this finds you well. I left Oman after 20+ years last year and sort of retired to France and Cyprus but I’m flying back to Bahrain this weekend on a consulting job. Best regards…

    • Jean Currie says:

      Hello Heather I don’t know if you remember me, but we were at School together.
      I have so many happy memories of my time in Kuwait. We had so much more
      freedom there, and a wonderful life style. Jean Currie xx

      • Jill (Henderson) Campbell says:

        What a wonderful find this has been, Ahmadi in the fifties!
        Jeannie C., I often wonder where you are, we used to play together and go to the pictures with parents. I am living near to where you came from (Knockderry at Cove, I am Cardross though. Please do email me if possible!

    • D tristram says:

      Heather…… fond memories all round ….. regards

  7. Allister Parlane says:

    Wonderful happy memories. Is that you heather, sister of Roz? It’s Allister Parlane here from Ahmadhi, would like to catch up with you, thinking about happier times in Kuwait. Im still living on the west coast of Scotland, boys all grown up. My email allisterparlane100@gmail.com.

  8. Linda Forbes says:

    Really interested to hear about Ahmadi. My uncle, Ron Chapman, and his wife Moyra, a nurse, were there in the late 50s. He died young, in May 1960, of leukaemia, shortly after he came back to the UK.

  9. Yousef says:

    It’s interesting, I work and live in Ahmadi, it’s interesting to see these old pictures of familiar places to me, I start to appreciate it more now, Hubara Club, unity Center, etc, a European town in kuwait, also interesting to read your comments and memories of 50 and 60 years ago, maybe some lived in my house north Ahmadi near the main office.

  10. Jean Currie says:

    Wonderful pictures of ahmadi, I attended the Anglo American school until 1961 from 1950. Jean Currie

  11. Jean Currie says:

    Loved reading about Ahmadi I spent my complete childhood in Kuwait, Anglo
    American School, mr. Wright maths teacher, mr. Nines English teacher, miss Crawford
    my best friend Carole D’Arcy who now lives in Lyndhurst new Forest. Near to my house.
    Hubara club the cinema
    Mena al Ahmadi the Magwa hospital where I had my tonsils out. Spinners for groceries
    Wonderful memories. I remember Heather Ainsworth, would love to hear from old
    Kuwaities. Jean Currie

  12. Des Meade says:

    I just came across this wonderful blog and brings back memories of Kuwait. I was born in Magwa hospital in 1954 and seeing photos of the staff and buildings is fantastic. I would love to get more information from members.

  13. Jean Currie says:

    I lived on the Ridge in Ahmadi, 78 Main Street, a girl called Jill Henderson lived opposite
    I would love to get in touch. We spent many hours swimming at the Hubara Club.
    I was 2yrs old when I arrived in Kuwait in 1947″ lived in Kuwait town next to Dasman palace
    for a few years, then moved up to Ahmadi, after a near fatal car crash on my way to school
    ended up in Magwa hospital. My father worked for the Shiek at the time, he then got a job
    with the KOC. I had my whole education at the Anglo American School, and left Ahmadi
    in 1961. I came home to go to commercial college in Southampton, and have bumped into
    some old Kuwaity friends, one being Barbara Brown, and Nigel French Paris.i now live in
    the lovely New Forest.

    • Elizabeth says:

      my husband and I were in Kuwait from 54 to 72 and lived in the 60s at 78 Main Street !

      • Mark says:

        Do you have any pictures of Kuwait from back then you could share with us?

        • Jean Currie says:

          Helo Mark I also lived at 78 Main Street left in 1960′ I would love to see it again.
          My Mum planted out the garden from new, as we were the first inhabitants, many
          Happy memories of that time.

        • Jean Currie says:

          No Mark sorry woul love to help. Wish I had kept them. I’m on Facebook now.
          Under Jean Wheddon

    • Jill (Henderson) Campbell says:

      Dear Jeannie, How lovely to see your words. I have commented on the first message I read, but now see another one here, I am so chuffed that you remember me! Great to see that you are still best friends with Carole D’Arcy. I have often wondered about you both, but no trace in the KOC kids site so far!
      I will paste what I had written here.What a wonderful find this has been, Ahmadi in the fifties!
      Jeannie C., I often wonder where you are, we used to play together and go to the pictures with parents. I am living near to where you came from (Knockderry at Cove, I am Cardross though. Please do email me if possible!

  14. Des Meade says:

    I came across an interesting academic study by Reem Alissa (Berkley) on the design and construction of Ahmadi. It provides a very interesting description, architectural plans and maps of Kuwait and the development of the oil industry and the housing and facilities provided for KOC employees. What strikes me when reading this is how facilities were so basic before Ahmadi was constructed. My father went there in 1946 and my mother joined him in 1949. The title of this thesis is: Building for Oil: Corporate Colonialism, Nationalism and Urban Modernity in Ahmadi, 1946-1992. Worth checking out.

    • Jean Currie says:

      Ahmadi in the 1950s was very basic, the houses were Nissan huts and prefabs
      The air conditioning was run by generators and these didn’t always work, so you
      had to rely on overhead fans.
      Kuwait airport was also a Nissan Hut, and the runway pure sand, and when you landed
      The plane created a sandstorm and quite often a fire engine would meet the plane.
      My first trip back to the U.K. Was in a Sunderland flying boat. Which took forever
      to reach Britain. We landed in Southampton water. Most memorable. Jean Wheddon

      • Des Meade says:

        Hi Jean. Your posting is a very interesting description of Kuwait before the oil money started to pour in. My memories growing up in Ahmadi in the late 50s are of a very american style. These avenues and layout hadn’t changed much when I visited in 2013. Although the houses, especially on 14th Avenue were we lived were still as I had remembered. The Hubara club has been modernised and the town has spread towards Kuwait city with very little vacant desert left. Prior to 1962, living in Kuwait and Ahmadi was a joy but I know very little after that period as we were sent to Europe for school and my parents left Kuwait in 1965. Travel to England was with B.O.A.C. was this the company that operated the flying boat service?

        • Jean Currie says:

          BOAC did operate the flying boat service between Kuwait and Britain
          but I don’t think it lasted long. The flying boats were retired. In fact
          I live quite near where they were built, a place called Calshot which
          is on Southampton water three miles from my house. They only carried
          12 passengers. One of them is now in an aircraft museum in Southampton
          I can’t believe I flew in one, as they are so small!! Jean Currie

  15. cheriyan says:

    Thanks for rekindling memories of Ahmadi and Kuwait. Remember the sandstorms, the layout of Ahmadi streets with eucalyptus and tamarisk trees, the Main office and its garden, the Public gardens, the Display Centre, Spinneys, tv programs like Popeye, Felix the Cat, Merrie Melodies, Hong Kong, The Saint, Lancelot, The Fugitive. Eagerly waiting for the prayer on the tv to end so that cartoons could start. Christmas was fun as there were so many parties and kids were literally spoilt with presents from Santa! Remember the interschool-sports day at the stadium. Watching the marching band and the band master. Dogs running through fire hoops. Did not like cocoa served in schools nor the flavoured milk from Danish Dairy.Orange juice in enameled cups were tolerable. We were taken to St. Pauls on Sunday during school time for a short church service. BOAC and the Jet club. The unique sounds of Water coolers and airconditioners. Drinking water fountains were fun. Collecting Canada Dry caps to see if we won prizes; The stray donkeys that walked on the roads. Morris Minors, Ford Anglias, Ford Zephyrs, Austin Cambridges, Fiat, Dodge, Chevrolets and Cadillacs. Camels on pickup trucks. The long drive to Kuwait city – long for a child. Taking trips to the fish market in Fahaheel and seeing live fish like Hamour. Children’s party in HMS Bastion. Going to see a trapped whale in the pier. Watching the Burgan well fire at a dsitance. Passing the Oil affairs ministry building on the way to Fahaheel. The Ahmadi shopping centre. The starting of the new Safeway. The new open air cinemas and slipping on the floor of the new cinema, wearing a new leather shoe! Janet and John books. The thatched fences and the wooden gates. The gas heater in the centre of the living room. Waiting for the weekly dose of Rupert the Bear in the Kuwaiti publication. Southwell Hospital – Dr Thom? Tombolas and samosas. Merry go rounds and slides. These are a few of my memories of Ahmadi…….

  16. Jeff McCarthy says:

    Lovely to read these memories. I was born in Magwa Hospital in July 1950 and lived in Ahmadi until 1959. My father Monty McCarthy was Chief Health Inspector with KOC. from 1948 to 1967.

  17. shona mckay says:

    Wonderful to discover this article and to read comments. I was born in 1953 in Magwa and my sister Christina (Tina ) Mckay was born in 1951 in Magwa. My brother Malcolm was 7 so had to go to boarding school in England. We only came to the UK every two years for about 6 weeks so Kuwait was definitely home for us. I do not remember many names but my sister and I went to the AA school. We lived on the Ridge, 22nd Street I think. The desert was just outside our back door. Our nearest neighbours were Jane and Margaret Parker (school friends) and Leslie Irving to the rear. My parents had an old Rolls Royce for a short time, no idea why, but my mother would take loads of children to the beach standing on the running boards. I wonder if anyone can remember this. I loved the school cocoa!

  18. Christine McCarroll (nee Berni) says:

    Great piece John and super photos. Did you not live right behind us on 14th Avenue? The Tydemans were our next door neighbours. Shona, I remember during one of my last visits you too were in Ahmadi, maybe Peter Wise too? Mike Green has posted on You Tube a video, either ‘Ahmadi’, or ‘Kuwait Now and Then’. The Hubara Club looks very sad these days, no diving boards! My heart is still there but have no desire to return as fear treasured memories will be sullied. Attended the ex-KOC reunion lunch this year with Richard Thom: all us ‘kids’ are now in our 60’s, but the years fall away… So difficult to explain to others, lucky us to have had such wonderful childhoods

  19. Malcolm McKay says:

    Remember so many names so many good times anyone wishing to get touch they are very welcome at Malcolm@ccsh.orangehome.co.uk

    • jim mcswegan says:

      Hi Malcom when ere you there as my father worked on rigs in the 40s and 50s

      • Malcolm says:

        My farther was in Kuwait from 1948/49 and in the marine department , my mother and I went to live in ahamadi in 1950.

    • Paddy O'Shaughnessy says:

      Hey Malcolm, sure haven’t seen you in awhile, not since you headed to school in Scotland and me to Ireland. We both lived on 22nd street, me at the club end beside Christine Nelson and you at the other near Johnny Gabitas. Let me know if you receive this, I’d like to chat some. Best regards…

  20. Graeme Pryke says:

    Hi,Does anyone know what has become of the KOC-KIds.co.uk website?

    Am attempting to find out the whereabouts of some friends of my elderly father Geof Pryke[ex KOC in Ahmadi],whom are Sue Mckeon and Sheila Bramley,both with late husbands who worked in Kuwait with my dad.
    Grateful any advice!

    Thanks Graeme pryke

    • Christine McCarroll (nee Berni) says:

      Hello Graeme, the KOC website initiated by Mark Wheeler seems to have become defunct since the facebook KOC kids site was set up – and Sue Bramley is definitely on that one ! Regards, Christine

  21. Suraya Ghani says:

    Hi,went to Ahmadi when I was six months old and was in school till 1960,possibly the only Muslim girl in the school …Linda Stanley ,Janet Burgess were in my class then ..it was lovely reading about Ahmadi and the school …took me down memory lane .Lived on the 16 th avenue very close to Heather Sales ….had a wonderful childhood there …..so was very pleased to come across this site.

    • Jean Currie says:

      Hello, Linda Stanley and Janet burgess were in the class below me in school
      Barbara stanly was in my class. I left Kuwait in 1960. Kuwait was my home
      for 16 years. 78 Main Street my address. I would love to catch up with my class
      mates.

    • Jean Willows (Hawley) says:

      Hi Suraya. I must have been in your class too as the names you mention are very familiar to me. I was at the AA school from 1955 to 1960 when I went to boarding school. My parents stayed until spring 1966 and I spent most of my school holidays in Kuwait. We lived at 43 First street and walked out of our garden straight onto the golf course. I went to this years KOC reunion but hardly anybody I knew was there. I’d love to know what became of Sheila Herdman and Merry Becker as they were particular friends of mine.

      This series is great, thanks

  22. Corinne Brown says:

    Wow these memories take me back. Dad, Bob Leask was chief refrigeration engineer at no 3 chilled water plant. Brother Robert was born at Magwa, me in the UK for medical reasons. Lovely memories of the AA school. We lived latterly at 32/11 Avenue. Left Ahmadi in 1967 at the age of 8. Now live in the Isle of Man. Other ex KOC retired here as well. The Redshaws lived locally till they both passed. One day I hope to get to the reunion, but hope it will come to the north of England to make travelling easier

  23. Paddy O'Shaughnessy says:

    I just got this from Mary Allyne. Thanks to whoever organized it…

  24. Jill (Henderson) Campbell says:

    Dear Jean,
    How lovely finding you and reading your recollections of our childhood. I would love to contact you (but the Facebook site says there is no Jean Wheddon), have I got it right? Or maybe I could send you an email if I had address.
    xx
    Jill H.

  25. Patricia Maine (McCracken) says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. Was born in Magwa and brought up in Ahmadi, was sent to boarding school but my parents stayed in Kuwait until my dad passed away in 79. Met my husband in Kuwait, had both my kids in Kuwait and left when my husband retired last December. I have seen so many changes and have to say the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s were the best of times in Kuwait.


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