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File 2764/1904 Pt 3 'Baghdad Railway: general negotiations 1910-1912.' [‎5v] (19/544)

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The record is made up of 1 volume (268 folios). It was created in 1910-1912. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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Progress of the Line.
The Germans pushed on the railway from Konia through Eregli to Bulgurlu,
where for several years the railhead of the line has remained. It is a compaiatively
small stretch of rails, and it runs through a fertile and well-populated country/
presenting no great engineering difficulties. But beyond Bulgurlu the German
engineers were faced by nothing less than the gigantic bulk of the Taurus IVtountams,
and all construction work came to an end for a long time. Through this range there
is, and always has been, only one feasible pass—the famous Cilician Gates. Through
these gates the armies of every conqueror have passed and repassed between Asia Minor
and Asia Major, and the Germans, in their turn, have found it impossible to adopt any
other route. But the difficulties to be encountered are gigantic. The work will require
scores of tunnels through particularly obstinate and close-grained rock and viaducts
across yawning ravines. Afterwards the line descends to Adana, joining the existing
little railway between Mersina and Adana, and extending it to the east to the junction
to which reference has just been made. From Kalakeui—Osmanieh is the usual name
for the place, though the town of Osmanieh lies 10 miles to the east—one line will
proceed due south to Alexandretta, or, as it is locally known, Iskanderun. To this
important branch I shall make a reference later.
The main line, soon turning south itself and still traversing very difficult country—
at one point, between Bagche and Islahie, there is a tunnel 5,500 metres in length—
reaches a place called Muslimieh. From this point the trains will run south into Aleppo,
the main constructional centre of the entire line, where a very large station and railway
works are already in process of construction. The through trains for Bagdad will return
as far as Muslimieh, and thence run north-east to Jerablus, on the Euphrates, a place
to which the excavations of Mr. D. G. Hogarth have drawn a good deal of attention of
late. Here the real desert journey begins, and the difficulties of the line, except for one
or two large bridges, from the engineer’s point of view, cease. But from this point
political trouble begins.
The course adopted runs eastward, and soon reaches Kurdish territory. These
descendants of the ancient Medes have never been properly subdued either by the Turks
or by the Persians. They maintain an imperium in imperio in the heart of the Turkish
Empire, and their objection to railways, which is almost as obstinate as that of
John Buskin, should perhaps have been taken into consideration before the course of
the line was finally decided upon. The Kurds near Mosul—the eastern objective of
this section of the railway—have announced their intention of preventing by force the
construction of any railway through their country. The Bagdad Bailway Company has
appealed to Constantinople for protection. This the Ottoman Government has been
unwilling and probably unable to afford, as its military forces are urgently needed in
other directions, and the last thing it wishes is to provoke a Kurdish rising against
itself at this moment. The company then requested that Nazim Pasha, the strong
ex-Vali of Bagdad, should be given special powers to secure the protection of the work.
It is not impossible that this may ultimately be done, but, if so, it will take place in the
teeth of the strongest opposition from Shevket Pasha, who at present is practically
dictator of Ottoman policy, and whose anger Nazim Pasha incurred by some drastic
street improvements in Bagdad which threatened the property of Shevket Pasha’s
brother. The Mosul-Bagdad section of the line will be an easy matter from an
engineering point of view. The right bank of the Tigris is followed without
Solid Construction begun.
Now it is not generally known in England that the surveys of the entire line from
Bulgurlu to Bagdad have now been completed, and that the actual work of construction
is being carried on at several points in the north-western part of its course. I had the
opportunity the other day of going over the railway works at Aleppo, and I was very
much impressed by the solidity and importance of the work there done by the Germans.
This is no mere light railway, nor is it being made on the principle adopted by the
engineers of the Trans-Siberian Bailway. The latter, anxious at all costs to have rail
way communication with the Far East at the earliest possible moment, were content,
so to speak, to “ tack together ” the new line in the first instance, with the knowledge
that they would soon afterwards be obliged to go over the entire work in a more
permanent manner. The Germans have decided to carry out the construction in a solid
and busmess-hke way from the beginning. To those who know the kind of material
usually employed for these pioneer railways, it will be enough to say that- the London

About this item


The volume comprises telegrams, despatches, correspondence, memoranda, newspaper cuttings, maps and notes, relating to negotiations over the proposed Berlin to Baghdad Railway in the period 1910-1912.

The discussion in the volume relates to the economic, commercial, political and military considerations impinging on British strategy for the international negotiations over the development of a railway to Baghdad.

Further discussion surrounds the motivations and strategies of British competitors in the area; included in the volume is a copy of the Russo-German agreement.

The principal correspondents in the volume include Sir Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Sir Gerard Augustus Lowther, Ambassador to Constantinople.

Extent and format
1 volume (268 folios)

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the rear to the front of the volume.

The subject 2764 (Bagdad Railway) consists of five volumes, IOR/L/PS/10/56-60. The volumes are divided into five parts with each part comprising one volume.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the main foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the first folio with 1 and terminates at the inside back cover with 269; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. A previous foliation sequence, which is also circled, has been superseded and therefore crossed out. Pagination: a pagination sequence in red crayon is present between ff 244-252.

Written in
English in Latin script
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File 2764/1904 Pt 3 'Baghdad Railway: general negotiations 1910-1912.' [‎5v] (19/544), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/58, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 24 August 2019]

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