The Story Behind The Galton Fenzi Memorial

At the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Koinange Street lies a particularly odd “caged” monument… one of Nairobi’s oldest structures, yet one of the least known: This is the Galton-Fenzi Memorial also known as the Nairobi Milliary Stone.

The Stone was erected in 1939 in memory of the man who pioneered automobile routes across Kenya and East Africa, Lionel Douglas Galton-Fenzi

Galton Fenzi

The Galton-Fenzi Memorial

In 1919, Douglas Galton-Fenzi an automobile enthusiast and adventurer ,  founded  East Africa’s first automobile association, the REAAA ( Royal East African Automobile Association). In 1923 he began negotiating for loan cars, so that he could test the cars under East African conditions. To this effect, he received several vehicles, among them a Riley 12/50 from the Riley Motor Car Co. Ltd. of Coventry.

A pioneer in his field and an ambitious one at that, The EA standard in 1924 had this to say about him,

“Galton Fenzi is always doing things, and he does them so quickly the public has no time to recover its breath!’. “

In January 1926, driving that very same 12/50 Riley, Fenzi became the first person to drive a vehicle from Mombasa to Nairobi , a total distance of 300 miles. Later, he went on to pioneer the Nairobi – Dar es Salaam to Malawi route, and the Nairobi-Khartoum route.


Galton Fenzi (left ) and Capt. Gethin made the first car journey from Nairobi to Mombasa, Image Courtesy : Sikh Heritage UK

Galton Fenzi remained  Honorary Secretary of the Royal East Africa Automobile Association until his death on 15th May 1937, at the age of 56  . The memorial was erected in his memory in 1939. The point at which it is erected is said to have been the focal point from which all distances to and from Nairobi were measured.


Image Courtesy Sikh Heritage UK

Galton Fenzi (sent by Pushpendra Shah)

Image Courtesy Sikh Heritage UK

Among the towns whose distances are inscribed on the monument include: Mombasa, Fort Hall , Nanyuki, Moyale, Juba, Khartoum, Cairo, Alexandria, Kajiado, Athi, Voi….. (among others)

Other inscriptions include : Dar es Salaam to Morogoro and Mombasa to Dar es Salaam

Galton Fenzi’s grave can be found at the St Paul’s Church in Kiambu


Image Courtesy

Today, the monument has been caged in a way that conceals its true splendor, making it nearly impossible to read the text inscribed on it. However, there remains much to be admired about its formidable structure and much too of the man after whom it was named.

In memory of Douglas Galton Fenzi 1881-1937

Correction: An earlier version of this article had listed Dar es Salaam to Morrocco as one of the inscriptions but the correct inscription reads Dar es Salaam to Morogoro
  • Dr. Brijendra K Sood

    I am an ex-Kenyan from Kisumu. My father’s brother in law worked as railhead station master from Mazeras to Kisumu when the railroad was being built. The pictures in this photo brought back very pleasant memories of stories he used to tell us when I was a little boy in early thirties.

  • Was it moved at one point in time? because older clips from the 40s and 50s give me the impression that it was at the junction on Kenyatta Avenue and Koinange Street (dead centre) but now the round-about is no more and it seems to be on Koinange Street. On your 4th image, one has the impression it is much closer to Avenue Hotel (Empire Plaza)….

    • TheAgora

      Hi Constant as I carried out my research there was no mention that it could have been moved. Could be that the change due to growth and new developments within the city give that impression . But I’ll check again and see whether there is any mention of it being at a different location and let you know if it was. Thank you for reading. Regards,

  • Michael

    Very nice article!
    Funny thing though. Its actually milliary stone and nor military stone 😀
    @ConstantCap I do not think the monument was ever moved. The city just grew around it.
    I discovered more about this monument while playing Ingress! Really awesome!! Now I know a little more history!

    • TheAgora

      HI Michael haha thank you for the correction , will be sure to make it . Interesting way of discovering it too. Thank you for reading 🙂

  • Sans Anthony

    Amazing to see Kipande house in the background. Thankfully they didn’t cage it :), and it looks just as majestic today!

    Thank you for the article, very informative.

    • Haha wouldn’t be surprised if they actually did 🙂 .. Kipande House is truly one of Nairobi’s most antique and prominent structures.. Thank you for reading Anthony

  • Machira Kirigwi

    I love this , being an architectural technician and a photographer … its amaizing what you are doing here and woul like to help out in any way

    • Hi Machira thank you very much for the kind words and support..Planning to do a few pieces on history of buildings in Nairobi some time in the future , I shall definitely let you know when I start.. Thanks again 🙂

  • Allan Mutoro

    Another interesting observation, look at where the sun rises and sets in Nairobi, that too has been captured on the orb