Edmund Rich’s Kabul River Railway archive

Bonhams auction 19952 on 4 December 2012 included this lot 283, which sold for £3750.


A very good archive representing the military career of Edmund Rich (1874-1937), an officer of the Royal Engineers and surveyor, mostly on the North-West Frontier and in Burma (at first in conjunction with the Survey of India and latterly as one of its directors), also relating to survey in South Persia during World War I, and with the British forces in Southern Russia in 1919, comprising a series of photographs albums, loose photographs, autograph letters, orders, draft reports, maps ephemera, etc., together with a small quantity of photographs, letters and documents relating to Rich’s ancestors, those of his wife Aileen Owen (d.1918), and their son (quantity)

In 1905 Rich was sent to Peshawar in charge of No. 12 Party with orders to survey the sensitive area north of Kohat Pass. This work lasted four years and included the Bazar Valley and Mohmand campaigns of 1908. The archive contains Rich’s alternative survey for the Kabul River Railway which resulted in the cancellation of the line then under construction, and the dismantling of track and bridges already in place. 1909-1911 were spent in England (Rich married in 1910).
Source: Bonhams

According to the auction listing, the most substantial of the items include “An album containing titled in manuscript ‘Views of the Khyber Pass…taken chiefly by E.T. Rich when surveying there 1905-1909, approximately 176 gelatin silver prints”.

From this it can be inferred that photos of the Kabul River Railway might well exist.

If you bought this archive, and you happen to read this webpage, is there any chance that I could have a look at it, please? :-)

(a different Edmund Rich was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 13th century, which complicates web searches for any information about this particular one)

The Frontier Clasp and its Railways

…the British Indian government had just started making inroads to the Khyber Agency by extending it’s railway beyond Jamrud.

The Peshawar – Jamrud railway had already been constructed on which the “Flying Afridi” train service would make a trip once a day. This train service, part of the greater Kabul River Railway or the Loye Shilman railway project, was to be extended much deeper into the Khyber Agency. The initial survey by Captain Macdonald was to follow the upstream right banks of the River Kabul along the Loye Shilman territory till the village of Palosi on the Afghan border. Although less challenging, this route was scrapped due to political issues of the time with the then Amir of Afghanistan, Amir Habibullah Khan and also probably due to the sheer number of bends in the River along the route.
Source: The Frontier Clasp and its Railways, Omar Usman, Khyber.org, 2011-03-14

There is a map which shows the Kabul River railway.

The Pathan borderland in 1910

A glance at the network of road and railway communications, which forms an essential feature in the scheme for efficient control, shows how comprehensive are the detailed arrangements for the protection of the North-West Frontier.

The outbreak of 1897, and the consequent isolation of the Malakand, showed the necessity of a railway line from Nowshera to Dargai; though a broad gauge line would certainly help better to develop the trade which is yearly increasing. The road up the Khyber Pass has been so far improved that heavy guns can go with ease as far as Torkham, on the Afghan border. The broad gauge line extends now to Jamrud. Work on the still incomplete Loi Shilman railway came to a standstill during the late Mohmand expedition. It is finished and ready for use as far as Shahid Miana, about six miles up the Cabul River gorge, beyond Warsak.
The Pathan borderland; a consecutive account of the country and people on and beyond the Indian frontier from Chitral to Dera Ismail Khan, by CM Enriquez, 21st Punjabis (Thacker, Spink & Co, 1910)