King's Own Royal Regiment Museum


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Images from Empire

The King's Own in the Victorian and Edwardian Era

Steamships, the backbone of the empire

Victorian Britain was the world’s leading industrial nation. Steam propelled ships offered new avenues for exploration and shortened travelling times between outposts. With the 1869 opening of the Suez Canal the world had become an even smaller place, reducing the journey from England to India by two weeks.
The 1860s saw the construction of the five Euphrates-class troopships, HMS Malabar, Seraphis, Jumna, Euphrates and Crocodile. The Royal Navy was charged with building and operating these ships after difficulties were experienced transporting troops during the Crimean War (1854-56) and the Indian Mutiny (1857). These steamships were designed to carry a whole battalion of infantry and had quarters for families and could navigate the new canal’s waterways. The ships were painted white with a yellow funnel, each with the Star of India emblazoned on the bow. The ships were in full service for thirty years, by which time they were far behind many vessels in the Merchant Navy. Malabar was the last of the ships to be disposed of, in 1896.
Travel within the interiors of many countries involved surmounting difficulties of terrain and climate that threatened the health and manoeuvrability of the field forces. Soldiers underwent bridge-building exercises and pontoon or floating bridges were often constructed in order to navigate rivers and secure lines of communication.

Dredger in the Suez Canal, 1896. Mechanical dredgers were used during the expansion of the canal.

Accession Number: KO0809-01-59

1st Battalion King's Own, E company at Lucknow on a training bridge, 1911.
Accession Number: KO0700-09

Bridge of boats over the River Indus at Khushalgarh, India (now Pakistan), 1906.

Accession Number: KO2490/499

Camel caravan on the banks of the Suez Canal, 1869.
Accession Number: KO0809/01-58

The 1st King's Own Officers and their families on board the SS Jelunga en route from Malta to Hong Kong, December 1897.
Accession Number: KO0241/04

Sergeants of the 1st King's Own and their families on board the SS Jelunga.
Accession Number: KO0409/01
SS Jelunga was launched in 1890 for the British India Associated Steamers. She was used by the Spanish as a troopship during the Cuban Revolution of 1893 and also saw trooping duties to South Africa during the Boer War. She was sold several times, ending up in 1921 the property of La Wei Chun of Hong Kong. It was in Hong Kong that she ran aground in 1923 and was salvaged for scrap

bulletWhere the sun never sets
bulletSteamships, the backbone of the empire
bulletFamilies, Sport and a Home from Home
bulletPax Britannica?

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2010 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum