Intoxications at Que Que Hotel


Gervas and Barbara paddling in the Que Que River 1936

Intoxications at Que Que Hotel  

The Que Que Hotel, on Main Street, facing the Railway station, was run by ‘Hacker’ Matthews an ex-pugilist. Next to the hotel was a large wood and iron hall, where Hacker staged boxing matches. Foolishly, Gervas in his early days took on a local Afrikaner. He hit him.  Nothing happened.  When he hit back, that was the end of the fight.

Another tough local was Mr. Lucas, a ranch manager for the BSA Company, a tall powerful man, but lame.  His visits to town were by mule-cart; to stop, he would grab a wheel with one hand. He would sit in the bar drinking, but never spoke.  A young and too friendly police lad insisted on talking to him in the bar.  Mr Lucas became annoyed by this distraction from his drinking. He gave the lad a back hander without getting up, sending him across the room, through the swing doors, out for the count.

Intoxications at Que Que Hotel

One day Mr. Delacy H. Stowe came into the Que Que Hotel but before he joined the usual crowd in the bar he saw a lovely woman on the verandah.  She was not the hat, gloves and high heels type. From head to toe she was different, with her hair up in a plait and sandals on her feet.

She was on the staff of the School of Art at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, on tour  as a Beit lecturer and potter, to talk about the art of pottery to the Women’s Institutes all along the railway track in Southern Rhodesia.  Barbara Forster Millard had been reluctant to go but her father said “Perhaps you’ll meet your fate there.”  She laughed.  She had been madly in love with David Leach, the son of Bernard Leach the expert potter at the Camberwell School of Art in England.  Her father had dissuaded her.  Later, Professor Smith, discoverer of the coelacanth, the famous ‘living fossil’ fish, was very keen on her.  Her mother wanted her to be ‘ladylike and gracious’ and do the things that girls do, but Barbara loved the family home at Herschel in the Cape and was a real home bird.

Mr. Stowe asked her if she liked riding.  She said, “More than anything!  My father sat me on a horse when I was six hours old and said, ‘There–born in the saddle.’  I’ve been riding ever since.”

“I’ll take you riding” he said. He rushed off to Gervas to borrow horses to take this smashing girl riding.

“No,” said Gervas, “I’ll take her riding.” He  immediately fell in love with her.

On her way back to South Africa, knowing which train she was on, Gervas went to the station to wait for the 2 am train to pass.  He walked up and down the dark platform in the hopes she would wake.

She didn’t.

Many Thanks to Tim Hughes of Queensland, Australia for the  picture and the excerpts from his unpublished manuscript  Matambega and Son written in the 1980’s.



  • betty

    Reply Reply October 19, 2012

    Can’t wait to hear how this love story unfolds! This is exciting!

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply October 21, 2012

    Mr Lucas had two sons?… And the family later lived in Bindura?…

  • George Parker

    Reply Reply October 27, 2012

    Loved the story of Mr Lucas.
    Your research into this small tho’ important central town in the growth of Rhodesia are fascinating…..never miss your weekly episodes.. Many thanks.
    Many years after your time in Que Que my 2nd daughter was born there (we lived in Redcliff at the time)…..QQ will always have a fond place in my life.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply October 28, 2012

      George, Wonderful encouragement to know you are tuned in weekly. Africa did not quite match America’s Wild West and it’s famous six shooter shootouts but we had our own brand of colourful characters that shaped the nation.

  • Fran Lamusse

    Reply Reply October 30, 2012

    I (Frances Stevens) was born in Bindura and Mrs Lucas was my godmother. My family moved away and I met up with the Lucas family again in Que Que after I had been adopted by the Polisensky family who there in 1957. I recall Mr and Mrs Lucas as kind caring people.

    • Diana

      Reply Reply October 31, 2012

      Fran, I’m glad you have good memories of the Lucas’. Please share a story or two about them for posting.

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply November 4, 2012

    The Lucas’ I knew had two sons, John and Peter – Both went to Chaplin for a while, one of the family albums contains a photograph of Peter, my brother Guy and me taken in the garden at 76 Eighth Street…
    Then in the Rhodes and Founders Celebration of 1951 Guy and I cycled from the Citrus Estate where we lived to Bindura in order to play in the Mazoe Valley Junior Tennis Championships, where we stayed with the Lucas’, Guy and I reaching the Semis in the Boys Dounbles, his brother winning the singles and with Jill Cairns, a St. Peters lass, the Mixed…
    The Lucas’ were a fine, fine family – Warm – Caring – And very considerate…

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 4, 2012

      Chris, that must have been one heck of a ride Mazoe to Bindura, and a story in it’s self. Congrats on reaching the semis after the ride. You must have been mighty fit. Glad you can affirm the Lucas’ family. I expect the old man was tough in order to survive in keeping with the times. I didn’t personally know them myself.

    • Laura Beaumont

      Reply Reply May 13, 2023

      I am Peter Lucas’s daughter and have some lovely stories. I am not sure whether it was in Que que or Bindura, but Grampy Lucas used to go to movies in a shed similar to the one described and he would take along a hammer and pliers to remove nails from the wooden seats. You had to be ready for anything

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply November 6, 2012

    Mr Lucas worked on the mine – Showed Guy and me around before one morning’s play – And because Guy and I had reached the Semis in the Boys’ Double and I had won the Boy;s Singles and the Nixed with Jill, we rode Guard’s Van Good’s Train to Glendale and cycled through the Estate to our home which was sandwiched between two canals which ran from the Dam to the orange groves and where, on the bank of the lower canal were a string of avocado trees which produced the most gigantic fruits…

    • Diana

      Reply Reply November 6, 2012

      Chris, it certainly was the land of plenty…Mazoe oranges, avo’s, guavas, paw-paws, mangoes….mmm mmm good! We could all be so independent then on our bikes. The good life.

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply November 10, 2012

    Anyone brought up in Rhodesia was a most, most fortunate person…

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