paddlesteamers.info : The Internet's leading website for
Side-Wheeled Paddle Steamers
: (includes notes on the operational quarter-wheeler Karim and possible surviving stern-wheelers)
River Nile, lifeblood of Egyptian civilisations throughout the
millenia, can still count paddle steamers amongst the numerous
vessels plying its waters.
The river has attracted tourists for many years and Nile cruises take
visitors to some of the greatest archaelogical remains on the earth.
British tourists in the 19th century were the driving force for the
construction of paddle steamers. In 1869, 28 years after organising his
first escorted outing to nearby Loughborough in the English midlands,
Leicester-based Thomas Cook & Sons, had hired two paddlers for his tours of
the Nile. They went on to built their own hotels and had a virtual
monopoly over the tourist trade in the area. They also gained contracts from the Egyptian Governement
for the carriage of officials and mails and opened their own shipyard
in Cairo where their vessels were assembled with parts brough in from
Britain. Two steamers of 1886 were built in France and their completed
hulls were towed to Egypt.
1884 many of the paddle steamers of the fleet were requisitioned by the
British Governement to transport a relief force, primarily made up of
Egyptian troops, towards Khartoum in Sudan to try and relieve the siege
of the city by Mahdi insurgents. The company could not offer its usual
tourist programme and lost of most of its fleet in the doomed
operation, although none of Cook's steamers actually reached Khartoum.
Claiming compensation from the British Governement, in 1886 the company
embarked on a large fleet rebuilding programme.
Anglo-American Nile Navigation Company entered competition as tourists
from the USA became particularly numerous. This company operated
particularly large sternwheelers. In the winter of 1905/06
Anglo-American was taken over by the German-owned Hamburg-American
Company along with their steamers Puritan and Mayflower and four
others, whilst a new American concern, the Express Nile Navigation
Company entered the market with their new steamers Virginian and
America. The Hamburg company also put two new steamers on order for
introduction the following season as competition really began to become
intense. However, it was the Thomas Cook operation which was to
Cook's fleet was to suffer further decimation when the Royal Indian
Marine, on behalf of the British Governement bought their paddle
steamers to serve in Mesopotamia from 1916
There are very few sources of information
which makes it difficult to give precise information about the exact date of
construction or indeed the actual builders of the paddle steamers still in existence
in Egypt and old records appear to have been lost. The vessels themselves have
been considerable altered over time, although most have their old machinery
virtually untouched. In one case the engineer's plate displayed clearly does
not relate to the original engine and has been a later addition !
tend to be run by tour operating companies on long-term charter from their owners,
so sometimes it is unclear who actually owns them and who markets them each
season - and of course travel agents in many cases arrange cruise holidays on
their own account in association with the lead operator.
Thomas Cook's Sudan
was returned to service after many years of dereliction and is the only overnight
paddler in service
Sudan Seen in 2011 in a photo kindly supplied by Kevin
One paddler has reportedly been
converted to diesel operation although retains her steam machinery on board
PV Andrea Manasterly : seen above as PS Nile Peking (ex
- Time Machine, ex - Mahasen) : Seen in 2011 in a photo
kindly supplied by Kevin Hoggett
Also check the following pages :
preserved Side-wheel Paddle Steamers outside Europe - for PS Le Pacha
side-wheel paddle Steamers Outside Europe - for PS Memnon
More Egyptian Paddle Steamers:
Paddle Steamers of the Past
OTHER EXTERNAL WEBSITE LINKS
A historical review by Alan Dumelow
FORMER SIDE-WHEELER STILL IN OPERATION as a turbine steamer for the Egyptian army and state president
The yacht El Mahroussa
survives in magnificent condition at Alexandria where she serves as
Egypt's presidential yacht and makes occasional short sailings. She was
originally built in 1865 by Samuda Brothers at Wapping, London, as
a paddle steamer for the Khedive Ismail Pasha. The vessel, which
remained in royal service until 1952, is much changed from the ship
originally delivered. Lengthened by 40 ft in an Italian yard in 1872
then again by 16 ft at Inglis' yard in Glasgow in 1905, she was also
converted to screw propulsion and fitted with Parsons steam turbines
built at their own engine works. In 1905, turbines were still a new
form of marine engineering, the first commercial ship to be so equipped
being only four years previously. She has had an interesting history,
being the first vessel to sail through the Suez Canal when officially
opened in 1869, escorted royalty into exile, including ex-King Farouk
in 1952 (at the time the ship was renamed as El Horriya)
and even went to the United States for that country's bi-centennial
celebrations in New York in 1976. She returned to her original name in
2000. In 2015 she was the ship used to inaugurate the New Suez Canal
built alongside the original canal to increase capacity
: Quarter-Wheel Steamer Karim
The British Army, still in Egypt after World War I brought
over some paddlers - one of which became a Royal Yacht, and now a luxury river
A steam-fired paddler, built in 1917. She is understood to have been built to
a design of the Lytham Shipbuilding & Engineering Co for use
on the Rivers Tigris and Eurphrates in Baghdad for the British Army.
A number of vessels were sent to Iraq, but possibly six (one of
which which became Karim), went for use in Egypt instead. Soon afterwards
she was used by the then Sultan, later King Fuad
I of Egypt and later by his son and, after the republican revolution, state presidents.
She has been in regular passenger service for public cruises
since refurbishment in 1991. The 45.8
metre long vessel has 15 luxury cabins and is equipped for 30
passengers. Her normal schedule is for 7-night cruises from Luxor to
the Aswan Dam at Lake Nasser and is operated by local company Spring Tours.
She has stern-placed side wheels, the so-called "quarter-wheel"
arrangement, which can be operated independently and are driven
by two compound engines.
Photo kindly supplied by Mr Morsi Shehata, General
Manager of Spring Tours
Click here for
more photos from Mr Shehata
Click here for photos kindly
supplied by Kevin Hoggett in 2011
: Possible Laid-up Stern-wheelers (believed to exist as at 2004 but status could well have changed)
Two other former
British army stern-wheel paddle
steamers built by Fairfields at Govan are still in existence.......but not in
1886 by Fairfield at Govan, Glasgow (yard no 295). Her engines bear the plate of John Elder, also located at Govan, whose
business ended in 1885 just as Fairfields established theirs on the Govan site.
Spent many years on the
Wadi Haifa to Aswan run after conversion to a passenger steamer. Was understood to be under refit for a future cruising
role (as at 2004) but this appears to have been deferred and it is understood
that she is now being converted for a role as a restaurant ship.
Clydesite's Clydebuilt database (as at Dec 2009) lists Akasha, a sister ship
of Ibis, also built by Fairfields (no 296) as still active , but I have no further
information as to exactly where she is.
The Thomas Cook Company were pioneers in "holidaymaking"
and owned an extensive fleet of Nile Paddle Steamers : Two sternwheelers survive
Laid up at Esna near Luxor. Believed to have sunk at some stage.
Former Thomas Cook fleet steamer.
Photo by kind courtest
of Paul Smith (Archivist, Thomas Cook)
paddler is up for sale with Luxor Marine Services as broker. Current
theories suggest she is Thomas Cook's PS
Fostat. After her regular career ended she had various uses. In
1962 and 1963 she was in service for the University of Chicago Institute
of Oriental Studies and used by the American Research Centre
in Cairo in the early 1990s.
here for more photos and information
October 2009. This and other photos of taken in October 2009
are by kind courtesy of Connie Tindale
The Anglo-American Nile Navigation Company were
the first main competitiors to Thomas Cook and two old stern-wheelers survive
from their fleet
Both are understood to have a common owner,
a steam enthusiast, who is looking for buyers who will restore them and return them
to service and both were seen at Minya shipyard in April 2018
known as Farida and Queen Farida