50s to 90s

Old Postcards of Kuwait – 1950s

A few years ago, a reader called John Beresford who used to live in Kuwait back in the 50s sent me some photos and a writeup in life in Kuwait back then. The posts turned out to be incredibly popular and crazily enough, a bunch of people who used to be kids growing up in Ahmadi back in the 50s started reconnecting again in the comments of those posts. Yesterday John got in touch with me again since he had found and scanned some old postcards of his dating from that era. He shared them with me along with some comments on each. As with the previous posts, John shares a lot of interesting insights and tidbits to life in Kuwait back in the 50s so please make sure you read his comments under the postcards.


A couple of years ago I sent you some memories of life in Ahmadi in the 1950s.

I have found some old postcards, a couple are 1960’s, the rest must be the early 50s, maybe the 1940s. I am unsure when the British Residency became the British embassy or when the Naif Gate disappeared, but if you find out it might give a guide to dating them.

Jashanmal Kuwait City
Jashanmals have been around forever in the Gulf. We used the one in Ahmadi which like most other shops was moved to a new shopping center built in the early 1960s. I don’t remember the part of Ahmadi this was in, but I still remember the road system and I can even mentally drive there after more than 50 years! I recall the Indian manageress telling my mother that the inflatable globes she had ordered for the shop were useless as customs had cut the map of Israel out of each one!

British Agency, Kuwait Town
I am unsure when this was taken. I suspect Sir Percy Cox was still around, he was at the time of the Abadan Crisis -1952 I think- my mother was a nurse in MIS and got thrown out with everyone else when the AIOC (Anglo Iranian Oil Co) was nationalized, and was allowed 66lbs baggage allowance to go home to UK. She then signed up to join KOC working at the Nissen hut hospital at Magwa, between Ahmadi and what became the new airport.

Mina Al Ahmedi, South Jetty
This is a view towards the industrial area, with Ahmadi 5 miles in the distance, up the ridge that allowed the oil to flow under gravity down towards the refinery and the jetty. As the spherical LPG tanks are in the picture this is mid-1960’s. On the shore, just out of the pic on the left, is where the Boat Club (Small Boat Owners’ Association) and the yacht Club (Cumberland Yacht Club) were. Their little beaches were gradually surrounded by the KOC Industrial Area. The shoreline on the right wanders up towards Faaheel. The green building suspended over the sea was a facility for ships crew, there was a cafe, games room, basic shopping facilities and a barber which for a time my father used to take me to – he had a pass for the jetty. If a crewman was ill he could be moved up to the KOC hospital, The Southwell Hospital in Ahmadi. The little triangle of water in the foreground is where a whale, unfortunately, became trapped. It swam unexpectedly, perhaps following a tanker, and could not find a way out. Attempts to assist it proved futile and sadly it eventually died. I remember that people were allowed to come and see it when it was still swimming and surfacing, as no-one had seen a whale before. But what type it was, or what size, I don’t remember.

Oil Rig
Once these had been set up they were able to be moved (skidded) on tracks, towed by a team of bulldozers in harness. The desert was firm and basically flat and there wasn’t really anything in the way, so they were towed to where they were next needed. The pipes that took the oil away to the gathering centres, where it received an initial processing that involved getting rid of a lot of the gas (there was no market for LPG at the time) were drape over the desert and where a road had to go, the pipes were dug into trenches and the service road put over it. The service roads are graded desert that had crude oil sprayed on it and then the surface was rolled, with more oil added, and more rolling. They were the smoothest roads I have ever driven on, very quiet. They might have needed some repair after heavy rain, but usually only if they had been underwater since the oiled surface repelled light showers. With very heavy traffic (e.g. trailers with large pipes) the surface could become damaged with furrows where the trailer wheels had made a groove, and if you were in a car and a wheel caught it then it could get exciting, but as you were in the middle of nowhere it wasn’t as though you could hit anything. And if something did go wrong, you always had a supply of water with you, and someone knew you were on that route, and someone was expecting you.

I don’t have any comments for these. I guess they are early 1950s but I don’t know enough about American cars to make a judgment, and anyway, cars from that era seem to last forever. I guess nowadays most people have Japanese/Far Eastern cars but I remember a family trip by car from Ahmadi to Kuwait Town and back in about 1968/1969 and we decided to count the number of Volkswagen Beetles we saw; we nearly reached 900! They were so popular for a time, they were the basic car of choice for those who were not rich. Then after a while, they just disappeared.

11 replies on “Old Postcards of Kuwait – 1950s”

I burst out laughing when I read this sentence: “I recall the Indian manageress telling my mother that the inflatable globes she had ordered for the shop were useless as customs had cut the map of Israel out of each one!”

I’m Palestinian and I don’t know what to say about that.

He reminds me of this British guy I met in the middle of nowhere in Ethiopia who was like “oh you’re from Kuwait? I lived there in the 60s and 70s. We were so happy when Wimpy opened. It used to get so crowded every day.”

Random funny shit.

Great post and very happy to see these old photographs ! Sir Percy Cox died in 1937, I believe he was referring to H.R.P. Dickson, the last British Political Agent to Kuwait who died in 1959. Just saying.

This is a great! I love seeing the pics and back stories. It’s awesome they kept these treasures from there time in Kuwait and are sharing with us through your blog!

Since I am incarcerated at home now I am Marie Kondoing (decluttering), so now I feel bad for throwing out things that will probably be cool to look at in 30 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *