Interesting Photos of 1920s Nigeria Including Its Railways

[Album with Thirty-Five Custom-Printed Real Photo Postcards and One Gelatin Silver Photo of Nigeria, Showing Nigerian Railway Locomotives, Tracks and Stations, Railway Headquarters in Ebute Metta, the Ocean Steamers’ Dock in Apapa with the “Boat Express” Waiting for Cargo and Passengers, Jebba Railway Bridge, Port Harcourt, Ebute Metta, and Ebute Ero neighbourhoods of Lagos, Portraits of Hausa and Nupe People, etc.].

Ca. 1920s. Oblong Folio album (ca. 25x29,5 cm). 30 card stock leaves (17 blank). With 35 real photo postcards (25 mounted and 10 loosely inserted) ca. 8,5x13,5 cm (3 ½ x 5 ½ in). About a dozen mounted photos with black marker captions on the mounts; most photos (both mounted and loosely inserted) with period pencil captions on verso. With a loosely inserted gelatin silver photo ca. 6,5x11 cm (2 ½ x 4 ¼ in). Period light brown linen album fastened with metal pins. Original paper label with a hand-written title “Snap shots of Nigeria” on the front board. Album cover with minor mild stains of edges, but overall a very good album with interesting strong images.

An attractive collection of the well-executed original photos of Nigeria, printed as postcards. The album’s compiler was a British engineer who was closely involved in railway construction in Africa. In 1922-1927, he took part in constructing the Uasin Gishu extension of Uganda Railway. Possibly, he was also employed at the extension of the Nigerian railway system in the 1920s. Interesting photos of Nigerian railways and trains include views of “class 401 passenger loco” (with the sign “Nigeria Railway. 405” on the side), “class 801 goods loco (with the signs “Sir Hugh Clifford” and “801” on the side), steamer “Accra” docked at the Apapa wharf next to the “mail and boat express” waiting for passenger and cargo, the “boat express at Apapa” on the move (locomotive number “405”), a steamer’s deck at Apapa loaded with railway locomotives, Nigerian Railways’ headquarters in Ebute Metta, a passenger train at the Ibadan station, Jebba railway bridge (completed in 1915), a railway station, etc. The other photos show the Commercial Road of Port Harcourt, Apapa wharf with docked steamers, a shady avenue in the Ebute Metta suburb of Lagos, the building of “Lagos Law Courts,” “coal transporters” at the Iddo Island, Ebute Ero waterfront, a village in the still rural mouth of the Ogun River, and eleven portraits of the native people (Hausa men, a Nupe girl, a member of the Northern Nigeria Police in service dress). There is also a view of Sekondi, Ghana, taken from the sea, a scene with British travellers being unloaded from the ship at Accra in a hanging stage, and two group portraits taken in France and possibly featuring the album’s compiler. The gelatin silver photo is a view of the Accra coastline taken from the sea. Overall a nice collection of rare photos of Nigerian railways and locomotives in the 1920s.
Railway construction in Nigeria started in 1896, with the first line going from the Lagos Colony to Ibadan. In the first quarter of the 20th century, the railway network grew on the basis of two major lines – western and eastern - built by the administrations of the British colonies of Northern and Southern Nigeria. The extension of the lines continued until Nigeria’s independence in 1960. During the latter half of the 20th century, the railways fell into neglect, and by 2013 only one line operated on a fraction of its capacity. Since 2006, the Nigerian government initiated significant rehabilitation projects of the remaining railway system, and the construction of the new lines, largely carried out by Chinese companies.

Item #377

Price: $1,250.00 USD

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