task of restoring Shiwa was and remains a massive and on going task
that is time and fund dependant. The concept of restoring a run
down old house seemed naively “do-able” in the year
2000! Reality loomed when we discovered it was not just the “simple”
restoration of the house or the 80 worker houses, three other large
houses, the essentials needed to run a commercial livestock farm,
two schools and the 20 bed Government hospital but also a disillusioned
unproductive community of 11,000 people! Work
began in March 2000. Sorting out how to repair the leaking roof
was perhaps the most daunting of tasks particularly as the bulk
of the roof stood at a height of 12 meters from the ground on a
45 degree pitch! However, the local Bemba carpenters showed no fear
and easily scaled the heights climbing up precarious home made ladders
that they were more than comfortable using.
of 3 x 3 inch eucalyptus wooden battens had to be cut by hand with
a pit saw. They removed Sir Stewarts home made lipped clay tiles
one by one and settled them down on the upper side of the ceilings,
replaced the rotten wooden beams and replaced the tiles. Very little
replacement or reinforcing was needed of the main truss beams that
had stood the test of time.
some earthquake induced cracks and fissures , the walls of the house
remained structurally sound. The internal refurbishment began with
stripping the old paint and some of the flaking plaster, filling
cracks, rendering the inner walls and repainting. Under the direction
of Jo a team of 6 largely unskilled men re-plumbed bathrooms, painted
and restored old furniture, a gang of men and women worked tirelessly
to clean out old flower beds. Earth and old manure was moved by
the ox drawn wagon loads to restore the lawns and flower beds and
by 2003, the old house had taken on a new life. The library and
archives were drawn into one area and over the next three years
were slowly put into their rightful place. Cataloging of the Library
was made possible compliments of Lydia Peterson from Boston and
friend Peter Siderman. The archives are now housed in the tower
room with Sir Stewarts drawings and maps stored in big metal drawers.
Seventeen of his photograph albums have been scanned and rebound.
The binding of his letters and diaries follow shortly.
efforts concentrated on getting internal roads, fire guards, 120
km’s of game fence finished, reestablishing the use of the
lake , 8,000 hectares of cattle fields, three cattle dip yards,
a sheep yard, piggery, dairy , functioning workshop and office and
then stocking them. What few hours remained in the day were and
are spent clearing the woodland of non-indigenous growth and establishing
the natural savanna.
In 2007 Mpandala
house was deemed worthy of restoration and Tom undertook to redesign
and supervise its transformation from a goat shed to a house and
today plays host to many guests.