The Egyptian Railway Museum
Sunday، 15 December 2019 - 08:03 PM
Within the framework of Egypt’s comprehensive project to develop and renovate the railway stations all over the country, the Ministry of Transportation inaugurated the Egyptian Railway Museum on March 1st, 2016; the Museum stands as a fascinating embodiment of the historical pattern and unique architectural style distinguishing Egypt’s time-honored transportation institution, deemed as the first of its kind in Africa and the Middle East and the second worldwide after the British railway system. It was built in 1854 during the era of Khedive Saeed and designed by the well-known British architect Edwin Patsy to be one of the most outstanding landmarks of the Khedival Cairo since that time to date.
A Journey to the Past
On October 26, 1932, the Egyptian Railway Museum was established in the reign of King Fouad the 1st, and opened for visitors on January 15, 1933 to narrate the story of trains throughout development stages in Egypt on one hand and become the nucleus of the first scientific and artistic museum of its kind on the other. The Museum was originally built to celebrate the International Railway Conference which was held in Cairo in that same year. In addition, the Museum, an architectural gem in itself, is considered one of the most prominent scientific institutes that open doors wide for promoting research and studies on the history of means of transportation in the past till the present time.
The Egyptian Railway Museum is the first of its kind in the Arab world and the second worldwide after the British Railway Museum; as it houses rare collection of articles displaying the history of railways in Egypt since the early beginning of trains operation till the present time. In addition, the Museum contains more than 700 models of trains as well as a unique collection of statistical documents and maps that trace the development stages of transportation and railways.
The Museum Building
The Museum is a two-storey building; the first displays different means of transportation before steam-operation train, while the second contains various models of trains since the first one that worked in Egypt in 1851 till the present time models; the second storey traces as well trains’ development stages and operation mechanisms throughout successive eras.
The Museum houses such a big library that contains more than 500 volumes of official records, books and documents that trace the historic and artistic evolution of transportation and railways.
A whole floor in the Museum is allocated for providing its visitors with information about kinetics, used by ancient Egyptians in building and construction.
The Museum contains many technical sections: one for maps, another for bridges, a third for rare documents and a fourth that contains models of both old and modern signal devices that show the evolution of trains since they were manually piloted.
Furthermore, the Museum has a special section for souvenirs in addition to another one for stations and bridges that contains old and modern models of stations as well as various kinds of railway bridges that illustrate the accuracy of construction, review stages of development and trace the successive phases of their history. It is worth mentioning that a special section of the Museum displays the ticket printing machine and train schedules.
Rare Articles and Exhibits
The Museum houses rare collections of exhibits and genuine articles that document the history of transportation in Egypt as well as the comprehensive modernization and urbanization shifts, taken place along the history of the Egyptian railways. In addition, the Museum contains very important models, replicas and statistical maps that display the evolution of means of transportation and railways as well as very valuable research papers and technical data. On the other hand, the Museum contains different models of primitive trains that ran by steam, charcoal and diesel.
The Museum houses the first train that worked in Egypt in 1855 as well as a pharaonic boat used by King Menkaure about 2000 years BC.
Among the rare documents in the Museum, is the original contract signed by Abbass Helmy I, the Egyptian Khedive in 1851 and Robert Stevenson, the son of the inventor of the steam locomotive. The contract valued 56.000 sterlings to establish the first railway route between the Egyptian capital and Alexandria at a length of 209 km.
Moreover, the documents at the museum show that Mohamed Ali Pasha thought of establishing the railway in Egypt in 1842. The year 1854 witnessed operation of the first locomotive between Alexandria and Kafer el-Dawar.
Among the rare acquisitions of the museum are the train of Khedive Saeed which France gifted him in 1862, and its locomotive is still in a good condition. Another train was manufacture in the 50s of the 19th century for the Khedive and consists of 6 cars that were manufactured in different countries.
It starts with the locomotive, then the guards car followed by the Princesses car, then the Khedive car which includes the compartment where he salutes people, followed by the Royal Family one and at last the ministers car.
If grandeur and authenticity are the features of the Egyptian Railway Museum, this is attributed to the rare collections of solids and artifacts the Museum houses, standing as a vivid embodiment of the people’s rich memory and the nation’s long history over more than 150 years.