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Dobinson Collection

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/RCMS 359

Scope and Contents

Personal papers, photographs, books and news cuttings relating to the Dobinsons' work and travel in England and East Africa.


  • Creation: 1891 - 1957

Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Henry George Dobinson was born in Cardiff in May 1914. His father was a railwayman. After beginning his elementary school education in Cardiff, Dobinson moved with his parents to Bridgend, Glamorgan, when his father was posted there. He completed his schooling at Bridgend County School in 1929.

In 1931, after leaving school, Dobinson was accepted into the General Post Office (GPO), working as a sorting clerk and telegraphist. Four years later, he was promoted to be a clerical officer in the South Midland Telephone District. During the Second World War he was conscripted into the Royal Air Force as a wages clerk, and served overseas. He was in Kenya in 1942 and the Middle East in 1944. While on these postings, he began to take photographs of the places he visited.

On his return to the United Kingdom in 1946, Dobinson married Phyllis Rich (b. 1914), the daughter of a railwayman. She had worked in South Wales for the Ministry of Supply as an audit clerk during the war. The Dobinsons settled first in Oxford, where Henry resumed his career in the GPO. Phyllis obtained a clerical post in the Oxford Telephone Manager’s office. They left Oxford in 1949 to take up Henry’s posting as an administrator with the telephone service of the British East Africa Corporation in Nairobi, Kenya. Phyllis found a clerical post in the Engineering Branch of the same body. The Dobinsons remained in Kenya until 1953. While on this posting, Henry kept a photographic record of their life in East Africa.

Returning to England in 1953, the Dobinsons settled first at Croydon, Surrey, but soon afterwards moved to Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Henry’s final position was as manager of the Tunbridge Wells telephone exchange. After retirement they remained in Tunbridge Wells, where Henry died in 1999, and Phyllis in 2007.


5 archive box(es) (5 boxes) : paper/photograph

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Stephen Roberts, the grandson of Phyllis Dobinson's sister, in 2010.


This collection description was created by MJC.

Includes index.
2014-04-17 16:59:55+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom