: The Internet's leading database of Paddle Steamers past and present 

EGYPT :  Stern and Quarter-Wheel Steamers

This page includes operational, statically preserved and laid-up steamers.
Click here for Side-Wheelers in Egypt

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, 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. After 1885 they really began to expand their own fleet and for the 1896 season, the Anglo-American Nile Navigation Company entered competition as tourists from the USA became particularly numerous. 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 heat up - just as it had done, for example, on the Firth of Clyde only a few years earlier.

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.

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.


Karim 5.jpg

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 and has been marketed worldwide by Voyages Jules Verne (until April 2012 with what is expected to be a temporary break).
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 (above) 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

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) for the British Expeditionary force in Egypt which was sent to relieve Major-General Gordon under siege in Khartoum in the Sudan. 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


Delta Thomas Cook.jpg

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)



Above : October 2009. This and other photos of taken in 2009 are by kind courtesy of Connie Tindale

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

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

NIAGARA   also known as Farida and Queen Farida


Egypt - Sidewheelers

Paddle Steamers of the Past : Egypt

Return to
Statically Preserved steamers outside Europe