From England To India Through The Suez Canal, 1880 Photo

Suez Canal And The British Empire, Old Photo 1880

An 1880 photo of the Suez Canal that made travel from England to India short. A remarkably clear view of the Suez Canal, a dredger, a steamship, and smaller boats are also shown in this 19th-century photo. A caption in French near the bottom edge “Croisement d’une drague marin” translated it reads “Crossing of a marine dredger”.

The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 played an important role in shipping during the British-India era. It was to be one of the biggest windfalls for the empire. Since a major part of their colonies lay mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. From the Middle East to India to Malaysia, Singapore up to Australia and New Zealand. Not forgetting the eastern parts of Africa. It shortened the distance, travel time and, definitely saved money on fuel.

The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 was one of the chief reasons for Bombay becoming prosperous. Since the exports mainly of cotton shot up and the migration from Europe and the Middle East to the city increased. Travelling to India from England before 1869 was long, tedious, and often dangerous.

Before its opening people mostly sailed rounding the Cape of Good Hope. A voyage that took almost six months to complete. Through the Suez, it took just three to four weeks to reach the ports of Bombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai), or Calcutta (Kolkata). However, there was also an overland route before 1869.

Travellers trekked overland through Austria to Iraq on the Persian Gulf then boarded a ship for India. Another alternative was travelling to the Red Sea, either sailing around Spain or journeying overland to Alexandria, Egypt. From Egypt, they crossed the desert by camel to the Red Sea port of Suez, then continued by ship.

Arriving on the sub-continent, Britons found a vast land, extending from the Himalayas in the north to the Deccan plateau in the south. British trading centers proliferated along the west and east coasts. Calcutta (Kolkata) became the center of colonial power till 1911. Following that, Delhi became the capital of British India. Click on the photo for better view.

Did you know- the Suez Canal was built by a French diplomat Ferdinand De Lesseps. 

From the collection- Drawing Hiding The Taj Mahal WW2., Prince of Berar Hyderabad Nizam’s Son, Old Photo PC., Indian & African Rhinoceros Antique 1790 Print By Berthault., The City Of Old Delhi Map 1877.



Photo Details

Year -


Photograph Size -

11½ x 9 inch

Photographer -

Egyptian photographer Zangaki