By Prudence Minayo
Mention the name Delamere and it will conjure mixed reactions among Kenyans. Whether it is the famous Delamere Rest Stop on the Nairobi-Naivasha road or the late Tom Delamere and his infamous cases of shooting and killing two people in their vast ranch on two separate occasions. That aside, one of the things the Delamere’s are well known for is the Soysambu ranch. The sprawling 48,000-acre piece of land comprises a farm, a cattle ranch and a wildlife conservancy. The conservancy hosts a lot of wildlife including the rare and endangered Rothschild giraffe and has been named a world heritage site.
WoK takes a look at the beneficiaries of part of the vast Delamere estate.
Subdividing the Property
In 2013, Business Daily reported that the family subdivided its Naivasha based farm which was estimated to be worth Sh5 billion at the time. This was done as part of a succession plan involving Lord Delamere’s two grandsons. They registered a new company called Ng’ombe Limited to inherit 1680 steers and 792 cows in the stable and a separate entity to hold their real estate property.
The family, however, did not comment on this news and all the details were obtained from information the family had filed with the Competition Authority and a subsequent notice in the Kenya Gazette authorizing the transaction.
Owner of Delamere Properties
The properties were inherited by Lord Hugh Cholmondeley, the fifth Baron Delamere, in 1979 when his father passed away. It was his son Tom Cholmondeley who made headlines twice following the shooting and killing of two people in the ranch. He was charged with manslaughter in one of the cases and was sentenced to eight months in prison. The two killings sent rage in the hearts of Kenyans as they pushed for a boycott of the Delamere dairy products.
A daily reported that this boycott forced them to lease their dairy business to Brookside and move some of their stock to Njoro. Tom Cholmondeley passed away at the age of 48 in 2016 after going in for a hip replacement at MP Shah hospital. He is succeeded by his two sons Hugh and Henry.
Donating and selling part of the land
Part of the vast Delamere estate was donated to a local school named after the family matriarch Lady Ann Delamere. A further 5,000 acres was subdivided and sold to retiring staff at discounted prices by a local Sacco.
The family was to later on sell 300 acres to the government near Nakuru town that hosts Delamere Girls and an airstrip.
The Delamere’s leased part of their land to Serena hotel, Mawe mbili camp, and Mbweha camp.
Sale to Brookside
Between 2013 and 2015, a number of online publications speculated that Delamere had sold their milk business to Brookside whose majority shareholders are the Kenyatta family.
In 2017, Business Daily reported that Brookside Ltd had acquired the Delamere yogurt brand. While details of the deal remained scanty, an event held by Delamere to launch the new yogurt varieties further served to prove they had sold to Brookside. The popular yoghurt brand is now under the Kenyatta owned company.
A History of the Delamere’s
The first Lord Delamere settled in Kenya in the 20th century. He first came to Kenya in the late 19th century to explore his passion for hunting. He fell in love with the country’s enchanting beauty and an experience of being attacked by a lion in the wilds of Kenya did not deter him from settling in the country.
Abandoning his grand Chesire family home in Europe, he lived in a grass’s thatched house in Kenya before building a reputable name for himself in the area. He ventured into farming and the series of failures he experienced never deterred him. Unfortunately, he died bankrupt.
His son Thomas Cholmondeley eventually moved to Kenya after World War II and turned Soysambu into a successful ranch amidst numerous challenges. He would be credited in a number of publications for contributing a lot to the Kenyan Agricultural sector. Following his death, his only son Hugh inherited the ranch.