Skip to main content

A.C. Barnes collection on East Africa, Nigeria, and Fiji, 1914-1933

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y30468CC

Scope and Contents

Collection of photographs on 64 album sheets with 24 loose prints. 225 relate to British East Africa (Kenya), German East Africa (Tanganyika) and Uganda, 55 to Nigeria, 4 to the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, 16 to Zanzibar and 35 to Fiji (including some duplicates).
The album sheets appear to have come from five albums, as follows:
A Light brown, 230 x 275 mm. (Plates 1-56 on nine sheets)
B Dark grey, 220 x 268 mm. (Plates 57-134 on nineteen sheets)
C Dark brown, 215 x 265 mm. (Plates 135-197 on fourteen sheets)
D Grey-brown, 320 x 250 mm. Some trimmed (Plates 198-206 on three sheets, 226-279 on eight sheets, 281-284 on one sheet)
E Light brown, 360 x 255 mm. (Plates 285-299 on eight sheets, 301-332 on five sheets)
As these albums have been disbound, the correct order is not obvious. ‘A’ has most of its photographs numbered in pencil (1-29, 35-38, with 20-28A) and begins in 1914; ‘B’ has numbers 39-50 (all numbers are shown in brackets after the titles) and presumably continues it, and ‘C’ follows; ‘D’ begins in East Africa and continues with Nigeria and the Wembley Exhibition; ‘E’ has Zanzibar and Fiji. The photographs were not inserted in precise order (some identical prints appear on different pages) but an attempt has been made to maintain each album sequence. There are some captions, many apparently written by Mrs. Barnes. A few postcards have printed titles.

Nineteen of the loose photographs relate to East Africa, and despite some uncertainty, probably to Barnes’ service in Kenya; thirteen (207-219) are duplicates of those on the album pages; six (220-225) are additional. The loose photographs of Zanzibar (300) and Fiji (333-335) are clearly identified; that of two aeroplanes in Nigeria (280) is particularly interesting. Captions without brackets are in contemporary hand: those in quotes are by Mrs. Barnes late in life. The assistance of Dr. T.H.R. Cashmore in captioning some of the Kenya photographs is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Creation: 1914 - 1933

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

Arthur Chapman Barnes was born in Werrington on 25 May 1891, and was educated at the village school, then at Deacon’s School in Peterborough. He taught as a Junior Master at Eccles Grammar School and attended the College of Technology in Manchester from 1908 to 1911, concentrating on chemistry and electricity. During this time he met Nancy Moss whom he was to marry. He won the Grace Calvert Scholarship to Manchester University, graduating B.Sc. (1st Class Honours in Chemistry) in 1914. He was married on 26 September of that year, and on 3 October, the newly married couple set off for Nairobi where Barnes had been appointed to the Survey Department of the East African Protectorate. In April 1916 he became Assistant Analyst, Chemical Officer in April 1920, and was Acting Director of Chemical Research from May to August 1920.

Fighting between the British and German forces in East Africa began on the outbreak of war in 1914, but was small-scale and inconclusive until the intensification of hostilities early in 1916. In his post as Assistant Analyst, Barnes was involved in the manufacture of ‘simple’ incendiary bombs. When the Nairobi Defence Force was formed in 1915, he joined as a private and became a Lance-Corporal. Some of the photographs reflect events of the war and include scenes in German East Africa. Barnes was awarded the General Service Medal after the war. The Barnes’ daughter, Mrs. Stephens, recorded how her mother Nancy was ‘awarded a medal (a pierced rupee) by various members of the King’s African Rifles and the South African Forces; it is inscribed to ‘Mrs. Barnes, mother of the K.A.R.’

The Barnes’ elder daughter, Joan, was born in Nairobi in 1917, and the second, Dorothy, in England in 1919. Barnes was admitted to the Institute of Chemistry as an Associate in 1918 and became a Fellow in 1922. Early in his career in East Africa he had become interested in sugar cane, and became regarded as an expert. He was appointed to Nigeria as an Agricultural Chemist on 25 April 1923, and to Zanzibar as Assistant Director of Agriculture on 13 June 1927 and was Acting Director from January to September 1928. He also played a considerable part in the establishment of the Clove Growers’ Conference. He was appointed Superintendent of Agriculture, Fiji, on 12 July 1929 and while there was also an official member of the Legislative Council and Chairman of the Coconut Committee and Livestock Record Association. His photographs end with this period. His last official post was as Director of Agriculture and Island Chemist, Jamaica, in 1933. He was appointed C.M.G. in 1936. Two years later he resigned to become General Manager of the West Indies Sugar Co. Ltd and was seconded as Director of Research to the Sugar Manufacturers’ Association in 1947. The Barnes retired to Durban, where their younger daughter and her family were living, in 1950. In 1952 he undertook an investigation of the cane sugar industry in Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. The following year he published ‘Agriculture and the sugar cane.’ From 1955 to 1957 he was Agricultural Adviser to Triangle Ltd. in Southern Rhodesia and from 1958 to 1972 Technical Consultant to the South African Cane Growers’ Association. In 1964 he chaired an International Congress on sugar cane mechanisation at Stoneleigh. He died in Durban on 4 July 1985 aged 94; Mrs. Barnes died at the age of 90.

The Barnes’ granddaughter Mrs. Spindler recalls, ‘I remember them both with much fondness. My grandfather was a very big man - in height and girth, very kind and considerate. He had endless time for my sister and I when we were children, always departing having left us with 5/-. My sons used to be taken into his little study where he would delight them with odd pencils, rubbers etc., out of a play box. He and my grandmother had a very happy marriage; he was devoted to her.’


311 item(s) (311 images)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

varied conditions

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Given to the RCS library by the African Museum, Johannesburg (which had acquired them from Mrs. Anne Spindler, granddaughter of A.C. Barnes) in June 1989.


This collection level description was entered by WS and MJC using information from the original typescript catalogue, which includes information from Mrs Spindler and her aunt, Mrs Joan Stephens (elder daughter of A.C. Barnes). The biographical note has been compiled from their letters, from official publications and from the brief entry in 'Who’s Who'.

Includes index.
2006-08-22 10:09:51+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom