Fine figures in toy soldier style produced by

The Red Box Toy Soldier Company

Nile Steamers and Gunboats


Yarrow & Company Shallow-Draught Paddlewheel Ships

The river Nile has always been regarded as a major transport and logistical highway for Egypt and the Sudan

The Ottoman Government used a fleet of sidewheel paddlesteamers (referred to by General Gordon later as 'penny steamers') as a means of communication and supply along the river - some of these became quite famous during and after the attempt to rescue Gordon

These were used during his two periods of service by Gordon himself, and then later by the British forces, when the serious fighting against the Mahdi's forces began and the relief of Gordon became necessary

They were used to move messages, troops and material until the occupation of the area of the Nile by the Mahdist forces - (some of these were captured and used by the Mahdist forces, and then re-captured during the Omdurman offensive)

Wolseley soon realised that this fleet needed to be increased in size, and Alfred Yarrow (boatbuilders in London) was approached to design steamships suitable for use on the Nile - there was much debate about the suitability of stern wheel paddle steamers on the Nile, but eventually they were chosen (speed was then of the essence)

Two sternwheel paddle steamers were quickly supplied, the 'Lotus' (already under construction for South America), and the 'Waterlily', and both proved very successful, in terms of navigability on the Nile, and in the amount of materiel which could be moved

These two were based on the design of 'Le Stanley, but were a more developed concept, and were powered by a single locomotive boiler of greater power

The illustrations above are artist's impressions of the small sternwheel steamer, either 'Lotus' or 'Waterlily'

The first illustration is taken from the book by Lady Yarrow and the second from an illustration in the Illustrated London News, Sept 13 1884

Notice the raised bulwark at the bow, shown on 'Lotus' and 'Waterlily' - this is absent on the first four river gunboats, and the boiler position on these steamers also appears to be more towards the bow to allow for more transport space

What is noticeable about these transport steamers is how exposed all the key elements of the ship are, compared to the later development of gunboats

Introduction - 'Le Stanley'

Yarrow & Company Shallow-Draught Paddlewheel Ships

Yarrow & Company Shallow-Draught River Gunboats

HMS Greyhound