Saturday, March 15, 2008

Along the Suez Canal, through the Red Sea and so to Africa

A month long journey from Southampton calling at Lisbon, Gibraltar, Malaga, Marseilles, Genoa, Port Said, Port Sudan, Aden and eventually Mombasa. I know we have more postcards of some of the ports which I will be able to post later but there are only these two at present. He will be here in Kenya on this first trip until 22 Feb 1927 when he returns to the UK, again on the SS Wangoni.

The Military Hospital Gibraltar

The Wangoni arrived at Port Said on 7th November 1925 by this time a very busy international port which developed since the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. I quote Blake Burleson's book (and see previous post) to give an idea of what it must have been like.
"Within walking distance of the ships one could find a post office, tea houses, cafes, a railway station, sporting clubs, department stores of various kinds, mosques with tall minarets, churches and synagogues. Walking along the Rue du Commerce was like walking on the midway at a circus ; shopkeepers, sidewalk vendors, jugglers, fortune tellers and magicians courted the tourists."
Another fascinating detail from his book is that Port Said was one of the first places in the world to use gaslight in the streets to increase the visibility for ships.

Port Said: The Customs Quay

On from here they went through the Suez Canal south to the stifling heat of the Red Sea. My grandfather talks in future letters of the terrible heat, it being too hot to, either sleep at night or, hold the deck parties and dances they had enjoyed in the Mediterranean. On a future journey in 1927 they had dogs on board . He writes "the butcher comes every now and then and sluices cold water over them" . Blake Burleson writes that mattresses would be taken on deck at night to take advantage of whatever cooling breeze they could find.

Arriving finally at Mombasa on 12 November 1927 they dock at the Port of Kilindini and then I think he would continue his journey by rail on the Uganada Railway to the station of Menengai just north of Nakuru.
This is a copy of his photograph. From here perhaps by car to Lord Egerton's Estate at N'gata.

The Station: Menengai