Williamson Pink Mwadui 
A Royal Diamond

Mwadui Airport

Williamson Diamonds Mine Mwadui 
A Royal Diamond

Williamson Diamonds Mine Logo, Mwadui ©Mwadui post card collections © Williamson Diamonds Mine Logo, Mwadui ©

WDL

Airport Features

Mwadui Aerodrome 
  Photo from the Dennis Sullivan collection

 

Average Rainfall 738mm or 29"   Rainy Season: Oct - April

Hottest Season: Oct - January         Av Temperature Max 34º C ( 93º F)    Min. 18º C ( 65º F)

Coolest Season: June - August  Av. Temperature Max.29º C (85º F)      Min 13º C. (55º F)

Time Zone: +3:00 hours from UTC/GMT

Photo from the Dennis Sullivan family collection

Click here to see Mwadui in Google Maps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The WDL DC3 VR-TBI at Mwadui airport

 

This Williamson Diamonds Douglas C-47B-25-DK (Dakota DC 3) reg VR-TBI (later 5H-TBI) purchased 27th July 1953 caught fire while being refueled in December 1957.

In the background is Doc's VIP DH.104 Dove VR-TAN named Mwadui II

 

The three pilots were Mike Croft, Dennis Sullivan, and Colin Shedden - there was also a radio operator Peter Skingley, who used to act as a sort of co-pilot on the DC3. The pilots lived in Hopley Avenue, opposite the golf course, all were keen golfers and I did caddy duties for them at times.

Mike Croft had recently replaced Peter Mansfield as Captain of Dr Williamson's VIP Dove. After Mike left, Denis Sullivan became the Chief.  When the Congo rebellion erupted he gave into his wife's panic and went to the UK.  I, Colin Shedden, then inherited the job.  I made many changes, mainly to adopt airline standards of training safety etc.

Colin Shedden: "When I arrived the fleet consisted of one DC3, two Doves a Cessna 180 and one Chipmunk. There had been two of the latter, both of which belonged to the aero club, which was in terminal decline as a result of two prangs three widows and number of fatherless kids
Doc decided to bring a breeding bull in by air. At first I was dead set against the idea; but when I was told it would be in a specially designed wooden cage, tranquillised and under the constant supervision of our veterinary surgeon, and, that I would be given a large calibre revolver as a pacifier in case anything went wrong, I reluctantly agreed.
The aircraft, a DC3, was configured for the flight with five double seats on the port side, the rest of the cabin being left open for freight. As our aircraft were registered and operated in the private category, we were able to operate without a second pilot or a cabin attendant. When I returned to the aircraft an hour before departure time, the bull had already been loaded. An enormous Friesian, he was busy trying to kick the cage to pieces, while Rodriguez, the Goanese vet. attempted to inject him with a needle the size of a six-inch nail. “Is he alright Rodriguez”, I asked. “Yes Captain, look his eyes is glazed”. A small brown hand was waved in front of the bull’s face.
Judging by the quantity of tranquilliser given, the bull must surely be semi-conscious soon; so on with the passengers. They sidled cautiously past the Friesian giving vent to their dismay at his presence – Karl and Francois being the leaders of the chorus. We fired up the engines and; started taxying. It was not long before Karl came up front. “Koll, that f………. bull is playing up!” The bull was certainly restless, Rodriguez was restraining him by holding on to the short bull pole through the nose ring. “What the hell is going on, Rodriguez”. “It’s alright Captain, look his eyes is glazing now”. Again the small brown hand was waved across its face. At that moment Charles opened up the starboard engine. The bull, startled by the noise, reared up, caught a horn in the cabin roof lining and managed to get one hoof out of the cage. While Rodriguez struggled to hold the bull pole, I managed to lever the beast’s foot back inside. “Bugger this for a lark”, I thought, “this bastard certainly isn’t coming with us”.

The Dakota was used for both passengers and freight including livestock due to the corruption prevalent on the railway.

A flying club was formed using light aircraft, the first employee to obtain his A licence was Chart Venter who received a gold cigarette case encrusted with diamonds from Dr Williamson. Venter was killed on the 22nd August 1954 while piloting a DHC.1 Chipmunk 22 on a flight to Mwanza.

The Williamson Diamonds Ltd Private Aviation Fleet

Dakota VR-TBI later 5H-TBI at Mwadui airportVR-TAN DH.104 Dove 1 (04055) Regd (CofR17) 4.11.47 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Nairobi; named “Mwadui II”. Conv to Dove 5 7/54. Regn cld 25.11.58 as sold South Africa. Regd ZS-CKW 12.58

VR-TBB DH.104 Dove 1 (04126) ex G-AKSU Regd (CofR 34) 6.8.48 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Nairobi; named “Mwadui III”. Mod to Srs 6. Crash-landed in inaccessible area in Southern Tanganyika. Regd cld 3.60. To VP-YTF?

VR-TBE DHC.1 Chipmunk 22 (C1-0408) Regd (CofR 41) 18.5.51 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Nairobi. Crashed Shinyanga 22.8.54. Regn cld 13.10.54 as destroyed.

VR-TBH PA-22-135 Tri-Pacer (22-643) Regd (CofR 44) 1.10.52 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Shinyanga. Crashed nr Arusha 2.10.54. Regn cld 20.11.54 as destroyed. Later rebuilt as CF-JSY

VR-TBI Douglas C-47B Dakota (15844/32592)44-76260, KN309 Regd (CofR 45) 15.5.53 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Nairobi. To 5H-TBI [9.64]

VR-TBK DHC.1 Chipmunk 10 (C1-0424) ex WG331 Regd (CofR 47) 11.11.53 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Nairobi. Regn cld 23.6.58 as sold to Commercial Air Services, Bulawayo, Rhodesia. To F-OBIK

VR-TBL Cessna 180 (30842) ex N2942C, VP-KMK Regd (CofR 48) 2.11.54 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Shinyanga. Regd (CofR 48A) 22.1.62 to Tangold Mining Co Ltd, Musoma. To 5H-TBL[12.64]

VR-TBO DHC.1 Chipmunk 10 (C1-0344) ex WG280, VP-KLM Regd (CofR 51) 14.8.56 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Nairobi. Regn cld 23.6.58 as sold to Commercial Air Services, Bulawayo, Rhodesia. To F-OBIL

 

Bristol 171 Sycamore 3 (12892) ex G-ALSX Regd (CofR 55) 10.12.57 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Nairobi. Regn cld 11.59 as sold in UK. To G-ALSX

VR-TBT Douglas C-47B Dakota (20453) ex 43-15987, OY-DDO, EI-AFB Regd (CofR 56) 1.1.58 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Nairobi. Regn cld 8.9.58 as sold in UK to Lloyds Underwriters Ltd. To G-APPO

VR-TBJ Douglas C-47B Dakota 4 (15908/32656) ex 44-76324, KN341, ZS-DHX Regd (CofR 46) 1.6.60 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Mwadui. Regn cld 9.10.63 as sold to Kenya as VP-KTS

VR-TCB DHC.2 Beaver 1 (1019) ex ZS-CFB Regd (CofR 64) 15.12.60 to Williamson Diamonds Ltd, Mwadui. To 5H-TCB [12.64]. Also ex N6675C?

5H -AAH The Big Doug, Douglas DC-4 Skymaster 42931 (Formerly BUA G-AOXK "Golden Fleece")

 

 

The WDL DC3 Dakota VR-TBI later 5H-TBI taking off from Mwadui





The Williamson Diamonds Douglas C-47B-25-DK (Dakota DC 3) reg 5H-TBI (formerly VR-TBI) with Colin Shedden at the controls taking off from Mwadui and on the rollover a later shot at Wilson Airport Nairobi.

Photo from the Hide family collection ©


Following its opening on 8th March 1958, Embekasi airport, later renamed Jomo Kenyata international, became the main hub for the WMD aircraft in Nairobi.


VR-TBI re-registered after independance as 5H-TBI then sold to a Texan and re-registered as N88882 led a pretty varied life mainly with the RAF - Here's her history

N88882 c/n 32592

Reg Owner Other info
44-76260 USAAF First flight 5/2/1945
KN309 RAF Delivered to RAF Nassau 16/2/1945
KN309 RAF Allocated to SE Asia Command 13/5/1945
KN309 RAF Allocated to 48 Sqn 13/5/1945
KN309 RAF Allocated to 110 Sqn 20/6/1951
KN309 RAF Allocated to 22MU and delivered to the UK 15/6/1952
Offered for sale
VR-TBI Williamson Diamond Mines Tanganyika Delivered 24/7/1953
5H-TBI Williamson Diamond Mines Tanganyika Reregistered Jan 1965
N88882 DA Egli, Fabians TX Sold (date unknown) and cancelled from US register 11/10/1977

See more photos of N88882 ex 5H-TBI ex VR-TBI here.

-3° 31' 17.13", +33° 36' 56.12" Williamson Diamond mine (opens in Google Maps or copy co-ordinates into Google Earth)





.5H-TBI formerly VR-TBI Mwadui pilot Colin Shedden

 

Colin Shedden, retired WDM Captain, wrote...

"You may be interested to know that we bought from the South African Company Wenela Air Services, their principle usage was to bring native labour to the mines from elsewhere in Africa. It was renamed VR-TBJ. One thing I particularly remember was the seats. They were small with low backs and were used in RSA so as to get the maximum number of seats within the aircraft.
It was later sold to East African Airways and reregistered as VP-KTS"

With regards,
Colin Shedden

21 January 2010

Colin had flown DC3s and Bristol Freighters with Australian National Airways (ANA) before going to England, where he flew the same aircraft types for Silver City, mainly ferrying cars between Lympne airport in Kent, and Calais.

Colin joined WMD in 1955 and was promoted to chief pilot and aviation department manager following the departure of Mike Croft.

Captain Shedden resigned from WDM in the late sixties and migrated to Australia for a career with the legendary Bush Pilot Airways in Queensland as its Chief Pilot.



The WDL Douglas C-47B-25-DK  Reg VR-TBI after it caught fire while refuelling at Mwadui 
	Click here to see more  
	Photo from the Hide family collection ©



The Brothers Hide looking over the Williamson Diamonds Douglas C-47B-25-DK (Dakota DC 3) reg VR-TBI (later 5H-TBI) in December 1957. The plane was being refuelled by a native under the supervision of the European engineer. The engineer was called to the hanger to answer the telephone and the native decided to fill his lighter from the fuel drips. Then he attempted to light it, IT DID, and it cost him his life.

Photo from the Hide family collection ©

Click here for more information on the plight of this Dakota VR-TBI

 

 

 

 

 

Reg Owner Other info
44-76260 USAAF First flight 5/2/1945
KN309 RAF Delivered to RAF Nassau 16/2/1945
KN309 RAF Allocated to SE Asia Command 13/5/1945
KN309 RAF Allocated to 48 Sqn 13/5/1945
KN309 RAF Allocated to 110 Sqn 20/6/1951
KN309 RAF Allocated to 22MU and delivered to the UK 15/6/1952
Offered for sale
VR-TBI Williamson Diamond Mines Tanganyika Delivered 24/7/1953
5H-TBI Williamson Diamond Mines Tanganyika Reregistered Jan 1965
N88882 DA Egli, Fabians TX Sold (date unknown) and cancelled from US register 11/10/1977

See more photos of N88882 ex 5H-TBI ex VR-TBI here.

-3° 31' 17.13", +33° 36' 56.12" Williamson Diamond mine (opens in Google Maps or copy co-ordinates into Google Earth)

 

 

The Mwadui WDL DC 4 reg  5H-AAH 
	Formerly the Golden Fleece in the UK airline group BUA. 
	Photo courtesy of Colin Shedden ©
	Click here to see more.

 

Big Doug The Williamson Diamonds DC 4 reg 5H-AAH, at Mwadui Airport

Photo courtesy of Colin Shedden ©

Formerly named Golden Fleece reg G-AOXK with BUA group in the UK. Prior to that her reg was OY-DFI with SAS. Captain Shedden picked the Big Doug up at Southend Airport 29th July 1963 and flew it to Mwadui via Cairo and Enrebe.

The "Big Doug" was sold in March 1977 with the registration N39430 before joining Ziare Aero Service as 9Q-CPM

 

 

 

Harry Oppenheimer arriving in Mwadui March 1952

Harry Oppenheimer shaking hands with the Doc's Security Superintendent Percy Burgess on arrival at Mwadui in the De Beers De Havilland Dove in March 1952. Harry came to negotiate on behalf of De Beers which, through its Central Selling Organisation, exercised a ruthless monopoly over the sale of diamonds. In consequence, De Beers regulated the production and distribution of more than 80 per cent of the world's diamonds. Doc was against the monopoly and had hoarded his diamond yeild for the past two years.

Left: Chief Superintendant Burgess, with I C Chopra on his left and Danny Malan with his back to the camera, greets Harry Oppenheimer on his arrival at Mwadui.

Dr Williamson had his fleet of aircraft lined up with his own VIP De Havilland Dove in a prominent position for Oppenheimer to see.

Doc had engaged the services of the distinguished barrister Mr Gilbert Paul KC to represent him alongside his legal partner Mr Iqbal Chopra KC. At the conclusion Doc was openly jubilant at the outcome saying there was to be a new agreement that would be beneficial to both parties.

Harry F Oppenheimer said "When that difficult Canadian, Williamson, was causing us some anxiety about the uncontrolled sales of his diamond output in Tanganyika, my father chose me to go and negotiate with him. He snubbed me at first, but in the end we had our way"

 

 

 

 

 

Doc Williamson 
    Photo from the George Magnum collection ©

 

 

 

 

With his diamonds now moving Doc was able to finance an innovative new plant incorporating the latest standards. Fraser & Chalmers pty in Johannesburg were contracted to build the new plant, supplying all necessary labour.

Bwana Williamson was prone to chain-smoking his Craven-A cork tips and was eventually diagnosed with throat cancer in 1956 and died two years later at 3 o/c in the morning on the 8th January 1958 just a few days before his 51st birthday. He was buried that same afternoon in the cemetery where it all began at his beloved Mwadui. His younger brother Percy, a shareholder, inherited the mine and immediately started negotiating it's sale.

Left: John Thoburn Williamson in 1948

Photo from the George Magnum collection ©

Williamson Diamonds Limited was sold 50/50 to De Beers and the Tanganyika Government on the 13th August 1958 for just £4 million GBP. Harry Oppenheimer was appointed Chairman and held the post for fifteen years.
Harry also represented Kimberley in South Africa for the United political party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Survey Helicopter

The New WDL Bristol 171 Sycamore 3 (12892) VR-TBS (ex G-ALSX) at Mwadui airport.  
	Photo from the Hide family collection ©

 

 

With the Robson family looking over the new Bristol 171 Sycamore Mk3 (12892) reg VR-TBS (ex G-ALSX) delivered on 10th December 1957 in a Bristol Freighter plane for survey and field ops. It was never used.

Photo from the Hide family collection ©

 


 

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