Ca. 1900-1905. Oblong Quarto (ca. 23,5x30 cm). 25 card stock leaves. With 42 original gelatin silver, albumen, and salt print photographs (25 mounted in the windows, 16 loosely inserted), including twenty-one large photos ca. 15x20 cm (5 ¾ x 8 in); the rest are from ca. 10x15 cm (3 ¾ x 6 in) to ca. 8x10,5 cm (3 ¼ x 4 ¼ in). Six photos captioned and dated in negative, twelve photos with period pencil captions on the mounts; two loose photos with period pencil captions on versos. Period green half faux-leather album with maroon cloth boards and gilt-lettered title “Reiseerinnerungen” on the front board; decorative endpapers. Several images faded. Address broadside worn and with several large tears on the margins, but overall a very good collection.
Historically significant photograph album compiled by B. Thorpe-Young – an accountant of the Sierra Leone Government Railway during its construction (1896-1907). The album is supplemented with a printed Address to the governor of Sierra Leone Sir Frederic Cardew, commemorating the completion of the Railway’s first section (Wellington to Waterloo) in 1898. The Address contains the names of all senior railway associates, including B. Thorpe-Young who was listed as an “accountant” among the “Colonial staff”.
The album opens with two views of the Waterloo station, elaborately decorated with palm trees and flowers, and the station sign visible – the photos were most likely taken during the opening ceremony. One of the photos features the train with a sign “Sierra Leone Railway” and a crowd of railway officials, colonial administrators and locals.
Eight photos depict the railway bridges. Four photos depict the Taia bridge (two photos captioned in negative “Taia permanent bridge, S.L.G.R. Extn. to Bo. 1.10.02”, two photos feature a train on the bridge, one photo shows the bridge from the distance). There are also views of the piers and abutments of the “Tabe permanent bridge. 2.10.02,” a scene of a smaller wooden bridge construction, and a photo of a train crossing the completed trestle bridge. The photo captioned “The unofficial opening of P[?].B., 7 Jul. 1900” shows a group of white railway associates and black workers posing with a train in the middle of a completed bridge.
The other photos shows Tabe Station (dated “2.10.02”), a railway depot, two British railway associates posing in front of a railway workshop, the environs of Tabe, a scene with several Africans on a riverbank captioned in negative “Malema Ferry (River Moa);” five group portraits of railway staff (all but one mark B. Thorpe-Young in pencil), portraits of “Messrs. Boyle & Andrews, Panguma Rd., Baiima, 26/3/04,” colonial residents, etc. The loose photos include two lively scenes of “A game of cricket on the sand of the River Moa after a swim,” views of a railway trestle bridge, native villages, markets, a portrait of the British associates dining, a portrait of a photographer with his camera (likely, the one who took some of the other photos), etc. The album is supplemented with a souvenir Christmas card, which bears a printed signature “B. Thorpe-Young. S.L. G.Ry Extension to Bo, Rotifunk, Sierra Leone,” and is illustrated with a close-up portrait of Thorpe-Young and a view of his bungalow (featuring him and his friend). Overall an interesting first-hand account of the construction and the early years of the Sierra Leone Government Railway.
The main line of the narrow-gauge Sierra Leone Government Railway was constructed in sections in 1896-1907, reaching Waterloo (1898), Songo (1899), Rotifunk (1900), Bo (1903), Baiima (1905), and Pendembu (1907). With the development of automobile transport in the 20th century, the railway was completely closed in 1974 and is no longer operational. The Sierra Leone National Railway Museum was opened in Freetown in 2005.
Price: $3,250.00 USD
Status: On Hold