Thomas Fletcher Waghorn

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Thomas Fletcher Waghorn (* baptized on July 16 1800 in Chatham (Kent) ; † 7. January 1850 in London , mostly Lieutenant Waghorn or (incorrectly) Lieutenant Waghorn called) was a British Navy - Lieutenant and Post entrepreneur a new route on Sues and thereby shortened the way from Great Britain to India by around 10,000 nautical miles.

Thomas Waghorn, around 1847. Oil painting by Sir George Hayter

Thomas Waghorn was baptized on July 16, 1800 in Chatham, Kent. He entered the Royal Navy at the age of 12, which he left in 1817, after the war against Napoleon had ended , as a lieutenant and worked for the East India Company , which soon promoted him to pilot in the Bengal Pilot Service . It was there that he first saw a steamship and began to contemplate developing a steamship line between Britain and India, but the higher ranks in India showed little interest in receiving orders from London quickly and regularly.

During a stay in London in 1825, he learned from the British Post Office that the statutory postage rates could not be increased for shipments by steamship either.

Waghorn then developed the route from Great Britain, later known as the Overland Route , by land to Marseille or Trieste , by ship to Alexandria , by riverboat to Cairo , by camel on a route through the desert to Suez with rest areas and overnight accommodations and from there by Ship to Bombay or Calcutta . His first trip to India, considered a test, lasted 4 months and 21 days, despite numerous adversities, which was a record, but significantly longer than the 90 days he had promised. Although Waghorn received no official support except from the Egyptian viceroy Muhammad Ali Pascha , with great dedication and by building good personal relationships with the tribes in the desert, he succeeded in setting up a widely accepted transport for passengers and letters to India, the 1835 reliably kept the promised 90 days. Over the years, the service became more luxurious. Comfortable steamers and new hotels with bathrooms were used in Egypt. The route through the desert with special horse-drawn carriages took only 20 hours, despite the horse changing in the seven small rest houses, where even champagne was served. The number of passengers rose from 275 in 1835 to 2100 in 1845 to more than 3000 ten years later, who also used the trip for sightseeing tours in Egypt offered by Thomas Cook .

In Egypt he also met the French consul Ferdinand de Lesseps , who was inspired by the Overland Route , among other things, for his plan to build the Suez Canal years later .

Waghorn's success attracted competition. In 1841 he had to merge his business with rivals to form JR Hill and Co. At the time, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company was also operating in India. Finally, the viceroy Muhammad Ali Pascha took over the company in 1842 and continued to run it as the Egyptian Transit Company .

Waghorn was still concerned with speeding up the postal service in Europe with the new railways. However, in the absence of promised payments from the government in London, this project ended in debt of £  5,000.

He died lonely and largely destitute on January 7, 1850 in London.

Lesseps, who explicitly praised Waghorn's pioneering achievements, had a statue of Waghorn erected in Suez, which stands on the pier in the harbor. A statue of him was erected in his native Chatham in 1888 .

See also

Race to Bombay

Web links

Commons : Thomas Fletcher Waghorn  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Mr. Waghorn's Route to India ( Memento of the original from January 3, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , John Brinton, in Saudi Aramco World, Vol. 19. No. 6; November / December 1968 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. The SS Savannah was the first steamship to cross the Atlantic in 1819.
  3. Years later, the Post Office was still of the opinion that letters could only be carried by sailing ships: Arnold T. Wilson: The Suez Canal . Oxford University Press, London / New York / Toronto, 2nd edition, 1939 (PDF; 12.1 MB) at