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WITH THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
BY PROFESSOR ERNEST W. BROWN,
HE visit of the British Association to South Africa during the past summer appears to have established the idea that its activities in future are not to be confined to the British Isles. Two successful oversea meetings had already taken place; the first at Montreal, in 1884, and the second at Toronto, in 1897, and there seemed to be no reason why the suggestion of a meeting in Cape Town, made as far back as 1898, by Sir David Gill, astronomer royal at the Cape, should not be followed up. But there were many difficulties in the way. It was obvious at the outset that few would be willing to make two long journeys by sea unless opportunities were afforded to visit the chief places of interest in other parts of South Africa. It was obvious too that few of those whose presence was chiefly desired would be in a position to afford the necessary expense unless very considerable assistance were forthcoming, and the general funds of the association were not intended, nor were they sufficient, for this purpose. Further, there are few towns where accommodation for several hundred visitors can be obtained, and this meant that special trains with dining and sleeping cars must be provided; the trunk lines in the colonies have a supply of rolling stock not much more than is sufficient for the few who travel long distances in South Africa.
While the matter was under discussion, war broke out. But those who were interested did not lose sight of the idea, and early last year it took more definite shape in generous offers of assistance from the governments and towns in South Africa. In the meantime, many changes had occurred. The new colonies must be included in the itinerary; opportunities must be afforded to see places and districts
rendered famous during the war; the extension of the main line in Rhodesia to the Victoria Falls made a visit to this natural wonder almost a necessity; and the recent connection of the port of Beira in
The dot and dash lines -- show political boundaries.
This map of Africa is copyrighted by the McKinley Publishing Company, Philadelphia, and is printed here by their courtesy.
Portuguese territory with Bulawayo suggested a possible return by the east coast and through the Suez Canal.
The tour finally planned was an extensive one, as a glance at the
accompanying map will show. The Union-Castle line steamers Kildonan Castle and Durham Castle, leaving Southampton on July 22, and the Saxon, leaving on July 29, carried the members over the 6,800 miles which separate that port from Cape Town. From there the party traveled by sea or rail to Durban and thence by rail to Johannesburg, making stops at Pietermaritzburg, Colenso and Ladysmith. The scientific meetings were divided between Cape Town and Johannesburg, and four or five days were accordingly spent in each of those towns. After a short visit to Pretoria, the regular program involved a long journey of 1,374 miles to Bulawayo viâ de Aar Junction, the only possible all-rail route; on the way, stops of a day or two were made
GENERAL VIEW OF THE VICTORIA FALLS FROM A POINT NEAR THE WEST END.
at Bloemfontein and Kimberley. From Bulawayo five special trains conveyed the oversea party, with the addition of many others living in South Africa, to the Victoria Falls, where a couple of days were spent. On the return to Bulawayo about half the party proceeded direct to Cape Town, whence the regular steamers carried them by the west-coast route to England. The remainder went by rail through Salisbury and Umtali to Beira, where the Durham Castle awaited them for the east coast route. On the return journey, Mozambique, Mombasa and Cairo were visited; the presence of plague at Zanzibar and Niarobi upset the arrangements for seeing those two places, but the unexpected block in the Suez Canal enabled the party to spend much more time in Egypt than had been expected. Several members whose duties