Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"The Grandfather I Never Knew" Part 6 - The House That Idris Built

The Grandfather I Never Knew Part VI - The House That Idris Built


4 Taylor Avenue, under construction




Around 1950 Idris decided to work on building a house, it would become home at 4 Taylor Avenue, Morningside, Umtali. from scratch for the family. His inspiration was the house the family had lived in when in Birmingham. A neighbour named Mr. Richard (Dick) Vairy drew up the plans for the house. He happened to live on the same street and was also the building inspector for the entire town. They used to be neighbors to Idris, Iris, Glyn and Wendy. This was when the Davies’ lived at 21 Plantation Drive. Later Dick would build his own family house down the street from Idris’ new one. Idris had to borrow £3,000 to start work on the house. This must have been mainly for materials since he did all of the labour himself. When he had lived in Birmingham he had a job as a painter and carpenter. He was good at it. The finished product was a 3 bedroom, 2 storey building, with 1 ½ bathrooms. The downstairs bathroom had a toilet and a washbasin.


His daughter Wendy remembers it being the exact same design as the house in Birmingham but twice the size, making it possible for the addition of a small veranda on the front.


Chinky the cat next to the lower Bay Windows.

A view from the front. The family enjoy the lawn.
You can see both upper and lower bay windows. 

Wendy sat in the front of the house.

Idris looks out the lower bay window. 

It had two bay windows facing the front, one on the bottom floor and the other on the top. These were glazed by a Mr. Bodtga. These were leaded windows and therefore similar in design to stained glass. Inside the house a large dining room/sitting room area that could be separated by doors if so wished.

The dining room had French windows that looked out onto the back. Just outside was a concrete base that Idris had always intended to act as the flooring for a glass room that would then have a balcony above. This addition was never complete though. The French windows were the only ones of their kind in Umtali and Idris hired a glazer named Bodtga specially for the job.


There was a well somewhere on the premises and Idris would draw the water from the well to help with the construction process. Later the well was used to fill the baptismal font when they had baptism services at the house. Iris also used it to help water her garden. She particularly loved the rose garden she planted.


I believe this man's name was January.
The table he is serving from now belongs to Glyn and Norma

You can just make out Iris and Merthyn.


When completed the house became the meeting place for the first Assemblies of God congregation in Umtali. Idris built a font on the grounds specifically for when people wanted to be baptised.

Howard Amm remembers that there were about 8 people in the first group of young believers to be baptised there and it occurred on May 21st 1961.


Completed house at 4 Taylor Avenue, Morningside, Umtali. 


Idris suffered from stomach ulcers and when he pushed himself too hard they would act up. Towards the end of building the house they did so again. His response was to eat bananas and milk. This would apparently prevent the flare up from being so severe.

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