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File 2764/1904 Pt 3 'Baghdad Railway: general negotiations 1910-1912.' [‎181v] (373/544)

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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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should be measured, not from Bagdad, but from tbe centre of gravity of the large tract
m Irak, which steps are now being taken to irrigate, dins centre, it is apparently
admitted by Sir William Willcocks, will lie somewhere between Bagdad and Bussorah,
and will therefore be very much nearer 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. than to the
From conversations with Sir William Willcocks I have gathered that what he fl.
contemplates is a self-supporting line, such as could be constructed without any
financial guarantee on the part of the Turkish Government, and that he believes such
a line to be a possibility. Whether Sir William Willcocks is or is not right in this
last opinion is a question which can only be decided on statistics and estimates (actual
and prospective) of production, exportation, and importation. I am endeavouring to
arrange for the collection of these, but it seems inadvisable to delay the present
despatch until they have been prepared, especially as the matter of the railway has
other political bearings which His Majesty’s Government will wish time to consider.
It may be observed here, however, that railway transport between Bagdad and
Bussorah 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 four or five days to something under twenty-four
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 the Tigris during some months of the year* is already
difficult and uncertain, owing to physical obstacles ; and it is manifest that if the river
should be tapped above Bagdad for purposes of irrigation—an operation without which
the country cannot attain to its maximum agricultural development—it would become
unnavigable below Bagdad, 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 opportunity 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 Bagdad-Bussorah railway is shown to be
economically feasible, further question will at one arise which His Majesty’s Government
may perhaps desire to examine in advance. The two principal of these appear to he
the following:—
1. Whether the new project would in any way conflict with Turkey’s international
obligations ?
2. Whether, and to what extent, and bj^ 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 Bagdad 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’s
new railway project; and I even gather that the project itself has become a sort of
bond of union between its author and the vilayet, 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 Bussorah 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 Bagdad Railway concession. Sir William
Willcocks s observation, at the end of his letter to the vali, about the transference of
the Persian transit trade from Bagdad to Mohammareh, is in my opinion,! well
founded; and this aspect of the matter is of supreme importance to the Turkish
* See Summary of Events for September 1910, XI—7.
f See Summary of Events for September 1910, VIII—2.

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.' [‎181v] (373/544), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/58, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 22 August 2019]

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