25 May 6 Interesting Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Limuru
There is an incredible amount of rich colonial history surrounding Limuru and its neighboring towns. Much of this history has seen the small region grow to become one of the largest producer of tea in East Africa and beyond. A good example is the white settlers like the McDonnell family and the Hudson Cane family who chose Tigoni for their settlement & agricultural experiments. Each of the families left an iconic mark. The McDonnell family established Limuru Girls High School, Kiambethu tea farm, and Arthur McDonnell – who was an English trained architect –designed the All Saints ACK Church in Limuru. The Hudson Cane family, on the other hand, established a farmhouse cottage to what is today the plush 270-roomed Brackenhurst Hotel and Conference Centre.
But that was only the beginning of great things to come. Today we explore some of the most unique facts about Limuru – from the rich cultural heritage to the modern quaint attraction gems.
- Source of World’s Highest Quality Tea
It may not come as a surprise but Kenya produces some of the world’s highest quality tea. The very first African tea bushes were planted in Kenya in 1903 when European settlers experimented by planting a few tea bushes on a small two-acre parcel of land in Limuru. These went on to become the foundation of Kenya’s largest export industry. Today, Kenya is the third largest producer of tea after Sri Lanka and India. The tea plantations around Limuru & Tigoni make for scenic and enjoyable walks. Undulating trails wind through the tea, small settlements, and past dams and reservoirs.
- Home to the largest Shoe factory in East and Central Africa
Bata, the largest shoe factory in East and Central Africa is based in Limuru town. The story behind Batas brand is incredible. At the end of the nineteenth century, just as colonial Africa was opening up as a market, all the manufacturers of shoes in Victorian England sent their representatives to Africa to see if there might be an opportunity there for their wares. All duly came back in time with the same answer. ‘Nobody in Africa wears shoes. So, there is no market for our products there.’ All, that is, save for the Bata rep. He came back saying, ‘Nobody in Africa wears shoes. So, there’s a huge market for our products in Africa!’ Tom Bata went on to defy the odds and launch brand that has stood the test of time. It’s why Bata’s shoes are known as the shoes of Africa. Today, the Bata retail chain also includes accessories like ladies’ handbags, school and traveling bags and the latest in world-renowned sports and leisure brands such as Power and Weinbrenner.
- The Award-Winning Cheese Farm
Established in 1979, Browns Cheese is a family-run Cheese Farm that produces Kenya’s Freshest Cheese that is also additive-free. This little factory makes more varieties of cheese than any cheese makers in Africa. Producing over seventeen different varieties of cheese using milk from over 3,000 small hold farmers in the area, Brown’s cheese is legendary. The Farm has earned worldwide recognition, recently winning seven awards at the South Africa Dairy Championships as well as an award at the 2002 Nantwich Cheese show in the U.K. For the lovers of cheese, the farm welcomes guests for cheese tastings and tours of our factory and farm, followed by delicious lunches with food sourced from their kitchen garden.
- The Floating Restaurant
Floating restaurants are rare. In Kenya, there are less than 10 floating restaurants and one of them is in Limuru. The Dam Redhill hosts a one-of-a-kind floating restaurant for a unique dining experience, boat riding & sports fishing. Amidst the hustle and the bustle of the Nairobi City, it is possible to actually disappear in Tigoni – less than a 30minute drive from the City – and have some fun. The Dam Redhill also has a 20 Km track for Bike riding and they also provide Zip Lining experiences for the Adrenaline junkies.
- Thayu Farm was once owned by King George IV
Did you know that King George VI, the father of the current Queen Elizabeth II, had a farmhouse in Tigoni? Well, the original title deed was in his name. The main house was built in 1948, and after several ownerships, was acquired by the present owners in 1986. It is now Thayu Farm Hotel. The Hotel sits in a 5-acre family farmland with mature flower gardens and indigenous trees. It is located right opposite Limuru Golf Club, next to Tigoni Police station. ‘Thayu’ is Kikuyu for ‘peace’ and the log cabin conference facility here was built from wood from a horse barn on the farm.
- Dr. Loius Leaky was buried in Limuru
Dr. Louis Leaky the famed Kenyan paleoanthropologist and archaeologist whose work was important in demonstrating that humans evolved in Africa, was buried in Limuru at ACK All Saints Limuru next to his parents’ gravesite. He is particularly celebrated for the discoveries made at Olduvai Gorge with his wife, fellow paleontologist Mary Leakey.