Bait Dickson

Located on Gulf Road across from the old ship harbor, Bait Dickson is named for H.R.P. Dickson and his wife Violet, who lived in the home from 1929 until the 1990 invasion. According to Dame Violet Dickson by Claudia Al Rashoud, the building was an old Kuwaiti merchant house that was modified at the turn of the century to be used as the headquarters for the British Political Agent. According to History of Postal Services in Kuwait by Mohammed Abdul-Hadi Jamal, part of the building served as a post office from 1904 to 1929.

The first photograph below was found here on abebooks. It was taken by Sergeant Thomas Fairclough in the 1930s. The next two come from Voice of the Oud. The next from History of the Postal Service, the photograph dates to 1991 and so you can see the damage the building incurred during the invasion. The other images were found here and in Kuwait: Arts and Architecture, A Collection of Essays.

After marrying after World War One and living in Iraq and Bahrain for a time, the Dicksons came to Kuwait in 1929 and moved into the house. In 1932, Freya Stark visited Kuwait and mentioned the Dicksons in her work Beyond Euphrates. Jehan Rajab met Dame Violet in the 1950s and “described her family’s yearly ritual of visiting the Dickson home on Boxing Day.” Harold Dickson died in 1959, but Violet continued to live in Kuwait. Al Rashoud writes that she, “went for regular horseback rides along the seafront, riding from her own home down towards where the Safir Hotel now stands.” In her own works, Violet wrote that, “from 1959 onwards the town was gripped by a fever of re-building, and we were sometimes dismayed to see how eagerly the Kuwaitis were demolishing whole quarters of the old mud-brick town and replacing them with multi-storey concrete blocks… beyond the walls of my own house and yard, modern Kuwait has grown up, and all is fever and bustle, but beyond that again is the peace of the desert, and the desert still calls.”

Violet loved the desert and notably wrote Wildflowers of Kuwait and Bahrain, which has now become a collector’s item. She also wrote Forty Years in Kuwait about her life. H.R.P. Dickson wrote several works, including Kuwait and Her Neighbours and The Arab of the Desert. Their daughter Zahra Freeth also wrote works on Kuwait, including Kuwait was my Home and A New Look at Kuwait.

When the Iraqi forces invaded in 1990, Violet was at the Kuwait Oil Company hospital in Ahmadi. After living in her home in Kuwait for 61 years, she was evacuated to Britain where she died in January of 1991. Today, Bait Dickson is a museum. The floor plan map comes from the article Socio-Spatial Analysis of Traditional Kuwaiti Houses by Omar Khattab.

These models at the Bait al Othman Museum depict Bait Dickson:


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