A fascinating group of Edwardian silver Souvenirs of the first Asswan Dam.
A fascinating group of Souvenirs of the opening of the First Asswam Dam comprising:
A small rectangular Edwardian silver Presentation Tray, with an applied rope rim twisted at the corners to form feet, London 1902, by Sebastian Garrard. The upper surface of the tray is engraved ‘With best wishes and speedy recovery to Sir John‘ above a number of engraved signatures and a little group of stylised piglets. The under surface of the tray is engraved with an engraved copy of a Dinner Menu for the S.S. Tewfik for the 12th December 1902.
A frosted parcel-gilt silver Ankh, London 1903, by Herbert Lambert. Engraved on the loop: ‘The Nile Reservoir Assouan’; and below: ‘Sluices Opened Dec. 10th 1902’, ‘Sir B. Baker.’
A Card Case, Birmingham 1903, Edward Jacobs and Son, die-struck on the front with a view of the ruined Temple at Philae on the Nile.
The opening of the first Asswan Dam on the Nile in Egypt took place on December 10th 1902. The project had been the subject of controversy because it meant the flooding of the ancient temple buildings at Philae.
Sir John Aird, 1833-1911, whose civil engineering firm was the main contractor involved in the construction of the dam, was present at the opening ceremony and, indeed, chartered the S.S. Tewfik from Thomas Cook to travel to the opening with a party of guests. Evidently, he was ill on board, but there is no mention of the illness in the newspapers of the period, which gave extensive coverage to the opening of the dam. The silver tray presented to Aird by his guests is engraved with the autographs of his guests, mainly engineers involved in the project and their wives, but also [top right autograph] the artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.
The opening of the dam was commemorated by a series of Birmingham made card cases, with a view of the temple at Philae on the front. One of these card cases is offered with the tray.
The Times (London, England), Thursday, Dec 11, 1902. Latest Intelligence. The Nile Barrage.
Ceremony at Assuan. (From our special correspondent). Assuan, Dec. 10.
The opening of the Assuan dam took place this afternoon in the presence of the Khedive, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, Lord and Lady Cromer, Sir E. Garstin, Sir Ernest Cassel, Sir John Aird, the Egyptian Minister of Public Works, and all the leading foreign officials in the Egyptian service. The arrangements for the reception of the guests were admirably conducted through Messrs. Cook.
The weather was perfect, and the ceremony was carried out without a single hitch. The flow of water through the sluices when they were opened was most impressive.
Sir E. Cassel and Sir J. Aird received respectively the Grand Cordons of the Osmanieh and the Medjidleb from the Khedive.
The population of Assuan tendered to the Khedive a most cordial reception. All the public and private buildings are illuminated. A ball is to be given to-night at the Savoy Hotel, at which the Duke and Duchess of Connaught are expected to be present. They leave tomorrow morning for Luxor, where they will visit the tombs of the kings, and after inspecting the Assuan dam will proceed direct to Suez en route for India.
Some surprise has been expressed here that the speech of Hussein Fakhry Pasha at the inauguration ceremony, while doing full justice to the services of the individual Englishmen employed in the construction of the dam, utterly ignored the fact that the work owes its existence entirely to British capital and British entreprise.’……
‘The Khedive fitted the key to the starting switch of the motors and turned it, whereupon five sluices were completely opened in five minutes. The water rushed through with a roar in great jets, the spray mounting to the top of the dam.
The Khedive and the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, accompanied by the Egyptian Ministers, Lord Cromer, Sir W.E. Garstin, Sir John Gorst, and the other guests, next proceeded in two steamers through the navigation locks to Assuan, where they arrived at ten minutes to 5.
On his return the Duke of Connaught held an investiture on board the steam yacht, conferring the following honours for services rendered in connexion with the Assuan dam:- Knight Commander of the Bth, Sir Benjamin Baker; Knight Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George, Sir W.E. Garstin; Knight Commanders of St. Michael and St. George, Major R.H. Brown and Mr. W. Willcocks; Honourary Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George, Hussein Fakhry Pasha; Companions of St. Michael and St. George, Mr. A.L. Webb, Mr. K.E. Verschoyle, Mr. M. Fitzmaurice, and Mr. G.H. Stephens.
Over four hundred invited guests were present at to-day’s ceremony, and there were several hundred other spectators. Among those present were Sir Michael Hicks Beach, Sir John Gorst, Mr. Winston Churchill, M.P., Mr. Bouinois, M.P., Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, the members of the Diplomatic Corps from Cairo, the Egyptian Ministers, the Grand Cadi, and many high officials and notables, including the principal officers of the Irrigation Department, General Sir Archibald Hunter, General Sir Reginald Wingate, Sirdar of the Egyptian Army, General Sir R.A.J. Talbot, commanding the British troops in Egypt, accompanied by their respective staffs, the officers of his Majesty’s battleship Renown, in which the Duke and Duchess of Connaught are going to India, the members of his Royal Highness’s staff, and many others.‘
The Times (London, England), Saturday, Dec 20, 1902
The correspondent writes further:
The vessel by which I traveled was the Rameses III, one of Messrs. Cook and Son’s boats, and it is only right to mention the excellence of the accommodation and food provided on board this vessel, as well as on the Rameses the Great, which was also chartered by the Egyptian Government for the conveyance of its guests. During the course of Tuesday the banks of the Nile at Assuan became crowded by a long line of steamers. Amongst them were the Victoria, of the Anglo-American Company, chartered by Sir Ernest Cassel; the Tewfik, where Sir John Aird dispensed hospitality; and several paddlewheel steamboats belonging to the various Government departments. ‘…
Good. The card case with a tiny pin hole in the decoration.
The tray is – 19.80 cm. wide; – 13.50 cm. deep; – 2.50 cm. high; and weighs – 254.90 gms.
The card case is – 10.10 cm. long; – 7.10 cm. wide; and weighs – 57.70 gms.
The Ankh is :- 10.60 cm. long; 5.10 cm. wide; 0.80 cm. deep. and weighs 102 gms.