Pictured here in the 1930s are visitors to the African Hut, reconstructed in the grounds of David Livingstone Centre. The hut was a reconstruction of the place where David Livingstone died, whilst in Africa in 1873. This was part of the original tourist attractions when the centre opened on 5th October 1929 and was located where the current Africa gardens are.
I suspect Blantyre’s climate had a lot to do with it being demolished, as I cant find any photos or mention of it after the mid 1930’s. It does, even then look quite fragile.
A week after the museum opened in October 1929, the Arbroath Herald wrote an interesting article that mentioned this little hut.
“Away at the farthest corner of the ground that has been bought along with the house to make a playing field for the children, there stands a tiny little straw house, and it was this that drew the attention of the young people.
It was a small place, just about half the size ordinary room, with a tiny door at one side, but how the children clustered round it. So much so that kindly old gentleman standing by took a hand in arranging things. “Get into line,” he said “and pass round it. Now just a peep inside today, for there are others.” And queue they did. Walking to the door they peered in, and what a fine thing it was to watch these young faces as they did so.
There was nothing inside but few sticks laid for a fire, but to the children there was all the excitement and the thrill of adventure as they pictured the great explorer on his adventurous last journey through Africa. You all remember how David Livingstone died, how his servant found the noble man on his knees beside his bed, worn out with pain and suffering for the sake of Africa. The little hut, that has been built close to the Scottish river Clyde in the village that was David Livingstone’s birthplace, is an exact copy of that one in far-away Africa where the last scene in the great explorer’s life took place, and these children looked into the little dark house they could see in imagination something of the story that great Scotsman’s work in that unexplored country in the great continent of Africa.
The Thrill Exploring.
Of course every boy loves exploring. Every man has been like that ever since there were boys, and there are no stories that thrill the boy like those that tell about going away into unknown places where no man has ever been before. And so because David Livingstone was an explorer and spent his life going where white man had ever been, boys, and girls too, find his life story a real thriller. But it is not only the excitement and the wonder discovering new places that makes the explorer set out on a long dangerous journey into unknown parts. He has something else in his mind. It may be to discover a way for a railway, or to find if there are gold mines or anything else that will bring wealth to people if it bought and sold in the markets of the world. Or it may just to add to the knowledge of the world.
When David Livingstone left his one-roomed home in a high tenement house in Blantyre to go away to the undiscovered parts of Africa he did not go to have good sport shooting lions and tigers, nor did he to discover gold and diamonds and ivory to make him rich—though there are all these things in Africa. It was as a doctor and a Christian missionary as well as an explorer that he went. And it was the people of heathen Africa he lived to help. We in Scotland are proud of David Livingstone, and we shall grow more and more proud of him, I think, when we see how people from all over the world will visit this memorial to him. From it we can learn all about his life from a boy to the time he died in his little straw hut.
We see the little one-roomed home in which he was bom, with everything just it would look when his parents and brother and sisters lived in it. Then we see a big spinning jenny,” the same as worked at as a boy making his first shilling to help the home, and learned his Latin from a book propped on the machine. We see in picture many things that happened when he became an explorer and a missionary, and we learn that to the boy of grit and perseverance and purpose all the world is open to him. David Livingstone had above all a great purpose, and the other things helped him to carry’ it out. I hope that all of you will some day see the David Livingstone Memorial. It will interest you to know that a big tablet on the wall tells us that it was largely through the efforts of Sunday School children of Scotland that the Memorial was bought and set apart for all time in honour of a great and noble son of Scotland. No wonder the children who could be there at the opening on Saturday felt proud and happy!”