Historically Important Original Photos of the Construction of the Uasin Gishu Extension of the Uganda Railway in 1922-1927.

[Collection of Two Albums with ca. 249 Original Gelatin Silver Photographs Taken by a British Engineer Working on the Construction of the Kenya and Uganda Railway in the 1920s, and Showing the Construction of Railway Bridges over the Malaba, Mpologoma, and Nzoia Rivers, Tracks on the Uasin Gishu Plateau, British Engineers, Native Workers, Views of Malakisi, Tororo, Kampala, Ripon Falls, Lake Victoria, etc.]

Ca. 1922-1927. Two oblong quarto albums: One (ca. 24,5x29,5 cm) and one (19,5x27,5 cm). 24 and 12 card stock leaves. The first album with 153 mounted gelatin silver photographs from ca. 15,5x20,5 cm (6x8 in) to ca. 4,5x7 cm (1 ¾ x 2 ¾ in); about sixty photos with period white ink captions and dates on the mounts; one large photo with an ink stamp from a Nairobi photographer. The second album with 96 mounted gelatin silver photos, each ca. 6,5x11 cm (2 ¾ x 4 ½ in); over 80 photos with period white ink captions and dates on the mounts. With eight loosely inserted studio photos showing ancient Egyptian sites (ca. 5,5 x 8,5 cm or 2 ¼ x 3 ¼ in), all with printed captions on verso. Also, with eight loosely inserted real photo postcards showing native people and views of Aden, Khartoum, Mombasa and Uganda, all with printed photographers’ credits on verso. Two period black and brown cloth albums slightly rubbed on extremities. Several images slightly faded; two photos might have been previously removed from one album, but overall a very good collection.

Historically important original photos of the construction of the Uasin Gishu extension of the Uganda Railway in 1922-1927. The Railway’s mainline was constructed in 1896-1901 and connected Mombasa and Kisumu – a port on Lake Victoria’s eastern shore (therefore, despite its name, the railway passed entirely through the territory of Kenya). The further connection with Uganda and its growing centre of Kampala became possible due to the fleet of steamers that transported cargo across the Lake to the railway terminus. In 1910 a branch line named “Busoga Railway” was built between Jinja (a port on Lake Victoria next to the famous Ripon Falls – the historical source of the Nile) and Namasagali on Lake Kyoga, thus connecting Lakes Victoria, Kyoga, and Albert. “By the 1920s, the Kisumu route was suffering from severe congestion, and in 1924 it was decided that the railway then being built from Nakuru on the Kisumu-Mombasa line across the Uasin Gishu Plateau of Kenya should be extended into Uganda. Construction, therefore, advanced across the border to Tororo, and from there continued to Mbulamuti, and the whole section was opened in January 1928. It provided a through route to and from the coast for the whole area served by the Busoga Railway and the Lake Kyoga steamers” (O’Connor, A.M. Railways and Development in Uganda: A Study in Economic Geography. Nairobi: Oxford University Press, 1965, p. 42). The final connection of the Nakuru line to Kampala took place in 1931. After independence, the railways in Kenya and Uganda were neglected and allowed to deteriorate. The last working stretch of the Kenya-Uganda Railway’s mainline between Mombasa and Nairobi has been closed since 2012. The new Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway built by Chinese contractors in 2014-16 runs parallel to the old Uganda Railway.
The albums’ compiler was apparently one of the British engineers directly engaged in railway construction. Over twenty photos depict the railway camp in Malakisi (western Kenya close to the Ugandan border), showing the rest house, “Malakisi ginnery,” golf course, a group of huts captioned “Malakisi, K.[enya] U.[ganda] R.[ailway],” a night house fire, portraits of several British engineers (names captioned: Davis, Jones, Major, Williams, Everett, Holmes, Dugmore), natives (including several photos of a native man posing with a killed leopard), etc.
Very interesting are eighteen photos which give a stage-by-stage illustration of the process of “Construction of Malaba Bridge, Uganda, November 1926.” The photos are captioned: “Turbo abutment,” “excavating founds,” “M.L.I. founds,” “girders ready for launching,” “launching of girders, December 20th, 1926” (four views), “sounding,” “sinking cylinders M.P.O.,” “M.P.O. shuttering,” “completed bridge,” etc. Four more photos in another album depict the “Launching of Malaba Bridge, 1927.” Nine photos show the construction of the Mpologoma River bridge in the spring of 1926 (“Mpogoloma, 1st cylinder,” “Mpologoma swamp” - with a railway line going across, construction camp, British engineers on the site, etc.). Eleven photos dated 1922-1924 show the earlier stage of constructing the “Uasin Gishu railway” in Kenya. Among them are pictures of the “Nabkoi viaduct” (including a large photo), and nine images of different stages of construction at “Mile 60.” There are also two photos of the Nzoia river pontoon and the “construction of Nzoia Bridge” in 1925.
Other interesting photos show Tororo (rest house, Tororo Peak), Ripon Falls before they were flooded in 1954, Kampala (Namerimbe Cathedral, the interior of the Rubaga Cathedral, four general views), Jinja pier, Lake Victoria, River Nile, Malaba River falls, Malakisi River, “eclipse of sun, 14.1.26,” wooden “ferry” on the Mpologoma River near Budumba, portraits of engineers Davis and Major with survey equipment in Myanga (Kenya), native crew “on board S.S. Clement Hill. Victoria Nyanza,” a native crew member named “Shangowa” from “S.S. Rusinga, Victoria Nyanza,” native mother and son from Tororo, native women doing household chores on the bank of the Malaba River, two British women posing in front of the car in Eldoret, etc.
The first album also includes over thirty original photos of several East and South African ports, visited by the album’s compiler in 1927: Mombasa (Kilindini harbour, city gardens) Dar-es-Salaam (general and street views), Zanzibar, Tanga, Port Amelia (Pemba, Mozambique), Fort Mocambique (Fortaleza de Sao Sebastiao), Beira, Lourenco Marques (Maputo), Durban (harbour, the Bluff, Town Hall), East London, Port Elizabeth (snake park), etc. There are also fifteen photos at the rear showing a construction site in London’s Whitechapel district (concluded from the visible street signs of “M. Duke & Son Ltd., Warehousemen, 115 High Street” and “H. Fabian & Son, Button House, Wholesale, Trimming”). The other photos show the Suez Canal, scenes from the celebration of crossing the Equator on board a steamer, several portraits of the compiler’s family and friends
Overall a unique collection of original photos adding to the history of the construction of the Uganda Railway.
“Considerable delay took place at the Turbo end of the Uganda extension owing to the failure of certain earthwork contractors to complete their contracts by the specified dates, but towards the end of the year [1926] platelaying proceeded more rapidly and the girders over the Malaba on the Kenya and Uganda border were launched before Christmas. The section from Turbo to Malaba was opened for the carriage of goods traffic, under construction arrangements, on the 15th January 1927. Railhead reached Tororo towards the end of January 1927. The section in Uganda from Mbulamuti to the Mpologoma Swamp was opened for traffic, under construction arrangements, on the 1st January 1927” (Colony and Protectorate of Kenya. Report for 1926/ Colonial Reports – Annual. No. 1352. London, 1927, p. 31).

Item #301

Price: $3,250.00 USD

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