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EGYPT :    (includes notes on the operational quarter-wheeler Karim and possible surviving stern-wheelers)
The 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. 
In 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. 

The 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 prevail.

Thomas 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 !  
Steamers 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 K Hoggett 2010.jpg

PS Sudan   Seen in 2011 in a photo kindly supplied by Kevin Hoggett

One paddler has reportedly been converted to diesel operation although retains her steam machinery on board

Nile Peking K Hoggett 2010.jpg

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 : 

Statically preserved Side-wheel Paddle Steamers outside Europe - for PS Le Pacha
Laid-up side-wheel paddle Steamers Outside Europe - for PS Memnon

More Egyptian Paddle Steamers:

Paddle Steamers of the Past


A historical review by Alan Dumelow on this link

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

EGYPT :  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 cruiser.

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.

Karim 5.jpg
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


EGYPT :  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 public service


Built 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.


The 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)


This derelict 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.

Click here for more photos and information


Above : 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

Niagara   also known as Farida and Queen Farida


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