East African Railways and Harbours

Marine Services


Before the three East African states gained independence the EAR&H fleet wore a defaced blue ensign with the East African Railways and Harbours coat of arms.  After independence the national flag of the ship's country of registration is worn with the flag of the country visited (if different to the port of registration) being worn at the yard.  East African Railways and Harbours operated a considerable fleet on Lake Victoria, Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert, as well as on the Victoria and Albert (White) Nile.

Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and the second largest lake in the world. On Sundays the VICTORIA sailed clockwise from Kisumu: on Wednesdays, anti-clockwise

Kisumu, Kenya

The overnight passage from Kisumu to Port Bell in the VICTORIA took twelve hours. After a two to three hour stop for cargo handling, the ship left Port Bell for the two hour passage to Entebbe.  Viewed from an East African Airways DC3, Kisumu Port and Railway Station.  One of the Lake Rail Ferries and the USOGA are clearly visible.  PHOTO Phil Rix, 1969

The wagon ferry UHURU (above) was commissioned at Kisumu on 17 October 1966 and operates between Jinja, Mwanza, Musoma and Kisumu along with its sister ship the MV UMOJA - PHOTO Kenya Railways
Jinja, Uganda
Taking a picture of the steam ship USOGA at Jinja - PHOTO Daphne Seager
Wagons being backed into transport positions on wagon ferry at Jinja Ferry Terminal which was opened in August 1967. The ship in the background is the SYBIL which was laid up having been replaced by the USOGA. PHOTO - EAR&H
Port Bell, Uganda

Port Bell viewed from a Lake steamer apparently before the rail track was laid on to the jetty - PHOTO Daphne Seager

Port Bell viewed from the mv VICTORIA prior to its departure for Entebbe - PHOTO Malcolm McCrow

The motor vessel SYBIL at Port Bell - PHOTO Malcolm McCrow

The motor vessel SYBIL, again seen at Port Bell was converted from a lighter in 1956 and operated a passenger-cargo service between Port Bell and Mwanza until 1966.  PHOTO Malcolm McCrow

Entebbe, Uganda
Entebbe was a short (one hour) stop, and from there it was an eight and a half hour passage to Bukoba in Tanzania. From Bukoba the ship sailed overnight to Mwanza where it arrived around dawn.  Leaving Mwanza at 1030, Musoma was reached at 1900 from where, after a two hour stop, the final night passage brought the ship back to Kisumu at 0700.

ss USOGA alongside Entebbe Pier in the late 1950s - PHOTO Daphne Seager
Cargo handling is well under way at Entebbe as the steam ship USOGA stops en route from Port Bell to Bukakata - PHOTO Daphne Seager

VICTORIA alongside Entebbe sometime after Uganda's Independence (note the Uganda courtesy flag on the starboard yard - the VICTORIA was a Kenya registered ship) - PHOTO Daphne Seager

ROMS VICTORIA arriving Entebbe after the short passage from Port Bell - PHOTO Malcolm McCrow

The Royal Mail Ship VICTORIA departing Entebbe on Lake Victoria. On commissioning the Queen assented to the ship being granted the RMS prefix - the only EAR&H ship so privileged.  PHOTO Malcolm McCrow
RMS VICTORIA departs Entebbe around 1961.  PHOTO Malcolm McCrow

Bukakata, Uganda

USOGA departing late afternoon for Bukakata - PHOTO Daphne Seager
Mwanza, Tanzania

View of the Mwanza shore line around 1962 - PHOTO Daphne Seager

Mwanza jetty seen from the mv VICTORIA.  If this photograph has been taken after the independence of Kenya, the ship will no longer be a Royal Mail Ship - PHOTO Daphne Seager
VICTORIA alongside in Mwanza and now showing a Tanganyikan courtesy flag - the union with Zanzibar not yet having taken place - PHOTO Daphne Seager
Another view of the VICTORIA at Mwanza which would seem likely to be taken on the same day as the above photograph - PHOTO Daphne Seager
The EAR&H jetty at Mwana viewed from the Lake in 1962 - PHOTO Daphne Seager
Rocks at Mwanza with the railway line in the foreground;  the railway was effectively a branch from Tabora which is on the [then] Tanganyika Central Line, originally the Ost Afrikanische Eisenbahn Gesellschaft, construction of which began on 1 February 1905 - by a private subcontractor, Philipp Holzmann of Frankfurt am Main.  It is interesting to note that the term East African Railways [Company] was virtually the title used by the Germans - PHOTO Daphne Seager
Sunset from RMS VICTORIA (left). The steam ship USOGA at Kisumu in 1962 - PHOTOs Iain Mulligan
UHURU (left) departing Mwanza terminal fully loaded - PHOTO EAR&H.  One of the wagon ferries alongside at Kisumu (above, right) - PHOTO James Waite. James has a comprehensive selection of photographs of EAR&H locomotives at Narrow Gauge Heaven - worldwide railway information. Included are photographs of the Nakuru Kisumu and Kisumu Butere branches, as well as Garratts, tender locomotives and tank engines.
Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert
The stern wheel paddle steamer STANLEY on Lake Kyoga en route for Masindi Port on the Victoria Nile (left).   The steam ship CORYNDON towing a barge on Lake Albert (left) - PHOTO Ian Hamilton Post Card Collection.
Glasgow to Kisumu
RMS VICTORIA under construction for the first time in Yarrow's Shipyard, Glasgow (left). On completion it was dismantled and shipped to Mombasa for re-assembly at Kisumu on Lake Victoria (right). PHOTOs EAR&H Magazine
RMS VICTORIA ready for launching into Lake Victoria (left) - note the size of the ship compared with the men on the slipway. VICTORIA takes to the water for the first time (right). PHOTO EAR&H Magazine
USOGA in dry dock at Kisumu (left) - PHOTO - 1964 EAR&H Annual Report. Kisumu Pier (right) - PHOTO EAR&H Magazine

East African Railways and Harbours