The Original Terms of the Will

Under the original terms of reference, the Trust was able to provide the funds to build most of the great bridges of Central Africa - over the Limpopo at Beitbridge on the border of Zimbabwe and South Africa; over the Save in Zimbabwe; over the Kafue in Zambia; over the Luangwa on the Great East Road from Zambia to Malawi; and the Otto Beit Bridge (below), opened in 1939, which spans the River Zambezi between Zambia and Zimbabwe at Chirundu. Over four hundred smaller or low level bridges were also built, which, at the time, provided much-needed communication in rural areas.

In his Will, Alfred Beit laid down the terms of the Trust. These were re-emphasised in The Beit Trust Act, 1954.  Although a mining magnate himself, he forbade his Trustees from investing in mining shares, other than preferred stocks.  The Trustís benevolent mandate is for Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, and in 1946 the Trustees switched from communications infrastructure to providing assistance in education (including postgraduate scholarships, teacher training, books and computers, as well as school buildings); health (including hospitals, clinics and medical equipment); welfare (including care homes for orphans and the old); and the environment (notably conservation of endangered species).  Individual Grants do not normally exceed £50,000.  The Trustees have occasionally provided funds for crisis relief, but remain reluctant to make grants to other UK grant-making charities.

The contribution of both the founder and The Beit Trust to Zimbabwe's 20th century history was also celebrated in two commemorative stamp issues. In 1968, a stamp was issued featuring Alfred Beit himself. Then a year later, the Trust's bridge-building achievements were acknowledged in the "Bridges of Rhodesia" issue. This featured an example of a low level bridge (below, top left); and the Birchenough Suspension Bridge (bottom right) over the Save River.


Help was also given to the railways, in particular with the provision of rolling stock and the building of railway tracks.


In 1932, a large grant was made to help establish civil aviation by paying for the survey of routes, landing grounds, emergency landing grounds and certain airport buildings. Picture (left) shows an aircraft refuelling at Salisbury (Harare).




The Present Constitution

In 1954, the Trust was reconstituted by an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom as an incorporated charity and, with the advent of Federation, Nyasaland (now Malawi) was included in the beneficial area.  Under Section 3 of The Act, The Beit Trust is now an incorporated body. The Trust does not fundraise and seeks to continue the philanthropic work desired by the donor through the careful stewardship and maintenance in perpetuity of its existing resources.



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