Today in Postal History




Uganda to England
July 13, 1910

This picture postcard was sent from Kampala on the west side of Lake Victoria.
Kampala is over 900 km northwest of the port of Mombassa
on the Indian Ocean where this cover went aboard a ship.

Until 1895, a letter from Kampala would have had
to make its way to Mombassa by runner or caravan.
Between 1895 and 1901 a railroad was built running inland
from Mombassa through Kikuyu and terminating at Kisumu.
Kisumu is on Winam Bay in the northeast corner of Lake Victoria.

During the period of building the railroad, steamer service
was provided on Lake Victoria from Entebbe to Kisumu.
Entebbe is only about 20 km south of Kampala on the lake.

This postcard was carried by a messenger or mail cart from Kampala to Entebbe.
There it was loaded on the steamer for a ride to Kisumu.
It then proceeded to Mombassa on the Uganda Railroad.
(Note: the Uganda Railroad was finally extended to Jinja and Kampala in 1931.)

It was received in Mombassa on July 17.
This four day trip is in contrast to the eight weeks required before 1896.

The Mombassa CDS is a so-called skeleton cancel
that was used when a regular CDS was unavailable.*
It was a handstamp in which loose type could be inserted so it was usable for any post office.
This one was set for MOMBASA | B E A | 10:15.AM | 17 JU | 10.
B E A is British East Africa.

The British Post Office in Mombassa consolidated the mail
from inland areas for forwarding to global destinations.
The postcard would then have gone aboard a Royal Mail ship in Mombassa
and travelled to England via Suez, Gibralter, and an English port.

I believe the reason there are no transit marks is that this mail was
sent in a closed pouch assembled in Mombassa and not handled until arrival in England.

The destination was Oxhey southeast of Watford
about 25 km northwest of the center of London.

The postcard is franked with a Kenya and Uganda Protectorates
1910 6c red redrawn King Edward VII (SG 43).

The illustration is a cascade of native orchids.
Such orchids were pursued by British botanists (see Orchid Fever).

*Thanks to David Benson for information on the skeleton cancel from Mombassa.

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