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File 2764/1904 Pt 3 'Baghdad Railway: general negotiations 1910-1912.' [‎150v] (309/544)

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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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It may be observed bere, however, that railway transport between Baghdad
and Basrah would certainly be more rapid and reliable than that by river-
steamer which at present exists ; and Sir William Willcocks, in conversation,
has adduced figures tending to show that it might also be cheaper. The time
taken by travellers between the two places would be reduced from 4 or 5
days to something under 24 hours ; and in the case of goods, also, traffic
would no doubt be greatly accelerated; while accumulations of merchandise
at either end of the line, due to the absence of sufficient carrying power when
business is brisk, could probably be avoided with a railway. The navigation of
£ ^ e . i qi n yt 7 the Tigris during some months of the
* See Summary of Events for September 1910, XI-7. . D -,.^ ix i j •
year is * already diflicult and uncertain,
owing to physical obstacles ; and it is manifest that, if the rivers should he
tapped above Baghdad for purposes of irrigation— an operation without which
the country cannot attain to its maximum agricultural development—it would
become unnavigable below Baghdad, at least for part of the year, by vessels of
the size and build owned by the (British) Euphrates and Tigris Steam
Navigation Company and the (Turkish) Idarah Nahriyah. The freights charged
by the river steamers are, I believe, heavy ; but, until I have had an oppor
tunity of comparing them with the freights for goods carried on Indian railways,
I cannot express any opinion as to the probability of railway rates being lower.
If the construction of a non-guaranteed Baghdad-Basrah railway is shown
to be economically feasible, further questions will at once arise which His
Majesty’s Government may, perhaps, desire to examine in advance. The two
principal of these appear to be the following :—
( 1 ) Whether the new project would in any way conflict with Turkey’s
international obligations ?
(2) Whether, and to what extent, and by what means—supposing the
enterprise to be economically sound and politically practicable
—the participation of British subjects in it can be arranged ?
Both of these questions evidently lie beyond the scope of a local officer such
as myself.
I may remark that the sentiments of the Baghdad Local Government, if
they were correctly reflected in language which Eram Bey, their Political
Secretary, lately held in conversation with me, appear to be extremely
favourable to Sir William Willcocks’ new railway project ; and I even gather
that the project itself has become a sort of bond of union between its author
and the Wilayat, so much so that it may possibly have the effect of modifying
a tendency to disagreement between them upon other subjects. Eram Bey told
me that the short land route from Lower Mesopotamia to the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf.
appeared to him a more natural outlet for the products of Mesopotamia,
notwithstanding the great length of the sea-voyage from Basrah to Europe,
than the long land route to the Mediterranean via Syria. He also expressed
great joy at the prospect, which seemed to him realisable, of Turkey’s being
able to establish a valuable line of railway communication in Mesopotamia free
from the unfavourable conditions contained in the German Baghdad Bailway
concession. Sir W illiam W illcocks’ observation, at the end of his letter to the
Wall, about the transference of the Persian transit tr;ide from Baghdad to
t SeeSjummary of Events for September 1910, Muliammerah, is in my Opinion Well f
founded ; and this aspect of the matter
is of supreme importance to the Turkish Government.
The substitution of railway for river-steamer carriage would necessarily
bring to an end the shipping business which the (British) Euphrates and Tigris
Steam Navigation Company have conducted here, with great efficiency and
succei s, for many years ; but I do not anticipate that the British Government,
though they may regard the Company as entitled to compensation on account of
the driving-up of the Tigris by the act of the Turkish Government and the
consequent virtual invalidation of the Company’s concession from the Porte, will
consider that any protest lies against the construction of an internal Bail way
m Turkey on the ground of its competition with a previously established British
concern. In case of compensation being granted to the Euphrates and Tigris
Steam ayigation Company for the destruction of the Tigris as a navigable
river, it might take the form, in whole or in part, of an interest conferred on
them gratis in the new Bailway Company.

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.

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English in Latin script
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File 2764/1904 Pt 3 'Baghdad Railway: general negotiations 1910-1912.' [‎150v] (309/544), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/58, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 21 July 2019]

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