1905 – Visit of the British Association for the Advancement of Science

Visit of the British Association for the Advancement of Science

9-21 September 1905

The British Association for the Advancement of Science was established to hold regular meetings in various countries of the British Empire in order to encourage scientific research in other parts of the world.

In 1905, the Association visited South Africa.The overseas delegates travelled to two South African cities as part of the meeting and visited five other cities on excursions. At each venue they met their South African counterparts and presented public lectures. There were two distinct meetings; Cape Town (15-18 August), and Johannesburg (28 August – 1 September).

330 members and their wives arrived in Cape Town on 15 August and travelled on to Durban arriving on 22 August 1905. They then travelled through South Africa to Bulawayo in two special trains arriving on 9 September 1905.

In addition to these meetings, the Association commissioned a young archaeologist from England, Sir David Randall-MacIver to carry out excavations at the Zimbabwe Ruins and to report on the significance of the monument. MacIvers methods were vastly different to those used by James Theodore Bent and Richard Nicklin Hall. MacIver’s subsequent publication, Medieval Rhodesia caused great academic controversy upon its release.

Members of the Association also travelled to Rhodesia, arriving 9 September. In Bulawayo, the second Rhodesia Museum was opened by Professor G Darwin, President of the British Association, and son of Charles Darwin. In addition, Randall-MacIver presented the results of his investigations before members of the British and South African Associations in an evening discourse. The party left Bulawayo on the 10th, stopping at the Matopos on 11 September.

The Association travelled onto Victoria Falls where the Victoria Falls Bridge was officially opened by Professor Darwin on 12 September 1905. After the ceremony, members visited the Rain Forest, Livingstone Island and other areas. On 13 September, the Association visited various points of interest around the bridge before returning by training to Bulawayo on the 13 September.

After returning to Bulawayo on the 14th, one group (206 persons) went directly to Cape Town and sailed on 17 September 1905 for home, the other group going north to Salisbury, Umtali and then to Beira before travelling back to Cape Town and to the UK.

Stamp Issues



  • Journal of the Rhodesian Study Circle No.67
  • Journal of the Rhodesian Study Circle No.68
  • Journal of the Rhodesian Study Circle No.69
  • wellcomecollection.org
  • Adrian de Bourbon