Shipping in Asia (19th C.)

London to India

Waghorn's Overland Route

Waghorn developed a new route from Great Britain to India, sailing to Alexandria then up the Nile and going overland to Suez before taking a steamer to India. This reduced the journey from 16,000 miles, via the Cape of Good Hope, to 6,000 miles. Initially Waghorn promised mail delivery in 90 days; down from 5-6 months by the sea route. The main problem was the Egyptian leg: passengers disembarked at Alexandria and proceeded by barge along the Mahmoudieh Canal to the Rosetta branch of the Nile. From there they sailed up the Nile to Bulac, the port of Cairo, first by ordinary Nile falucca, later on a small paddle steamer bought by Waghorn. From Bulac to Cairo, they rode donkeys. Then to reach Suez on the Red Sea, one had to cross 80-odd miles desert by camels or sand carts. Waghorn's company built rest-houses and supplied guides, boats, horses and carriages for travelers.

Eventually, the Egyptian leg was cut to 3 days and the journey to India 40 days.


Formosa (1857)
Site documenting Sugar & Opium trade