Matabele Boiler - Irisvale
Throughout Rhodesia (and most of Africa) this was the only way many farm houses had hot water. A 44 gallon drum was built in, on its side, into a brick structure. Water from a nearby water tank, higher than the drum, was gravity-fed into the drum. A fire would be made under the drum to heat the water which could then be drawn off for kitchen or bathroom use. (Note the long pipe extending upwards into the air - this was for the steam to escape if the water got too hot - quite a common occurrence.) You were never allowed to draw too much hot water off for a bath otherwise the new water would not heat up fast enough for the next person's bath. (It was very common to share baths with siblings or parents for this reason.) Servants would have to stoke up the fire early each morning to ensure that there was hot water for early morning ablutions. Although universal through-out Africa this structure was commonly known as the Matabele boiler.
photo taken by Gordon Poultney 1982 at Irisvale Ranch, Balla Balla
Back to Photo Gallery