GENERAL DATA RE EGYPT - PAGE 2
Had you travelled to Cairo in the late 19th century, & indeed very much later also, you might very well have stayed at The Shepheard's Hotel. The Shepheard's Hotel of today, built in 1957, though it could possibly have been in 1956, on the corniche beside the Nile, is NOT the original hotel. The original, built in 1841 by Samuel Shepheard for British passengers on their way to India & the Far East, was located near Opera Square, away from the river, on a site now occupied by a gas station! It was commandeered for Napolean's headquarters in 1849 & for a great many years was the social mecca of British Army officers. It was burned down in the civil unrest of 1952 when much of 'British' Cairo was destroyed. The original hotel was, in its Victorian elegant heyday, THE place to be & be seen when in Cairo, if you were that way inclined. Its famous terrace, set with wicker chairs & tables, commanded a lofty & shaded view of the comings & goings on Ibrahim Pasha Street below.
'The Famous Terrace of Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.' Stereo Slide # 33720 of the Keystone View Company. The text on the rear is visible here, should you wish to read it.
And here is a marvellous image, attributed to G. Lekegian, of the entrance to Shepheard's hotel. The giant albumen print of which it is the major part, was sold via e-Bay for the amazingly low price of U.S. $49.99 in Jul. 2003. What a splendid image! Look at all the different people who are 'immortal' via this image. l trust I may be forgiven for using the image in this way. The year? I don't know, but probably the 1890s. I should indicate that the image that I show is very different from that which was sold, since I adjusted it primarily to remove the yellow of ageing.
And another & very different view of the terrace - a most interesting image of a military band playing in the garden beside the terrace, with the street at left. A part only of an e-Bay item from Dec. 2005 that described the image as being '(Photochrom Zürich) - 2113 P. Z. KAIRO, SHEPHEARD'S HOTEL, Concert militaire' - though to date from ca. 1890.
And most of an image, by a photographer whose name is not known to the webmaster, of the other side of the hotel facade & terrace. Both of these images (the colour image above and the black & white image below) seem to show the roof line of the terrace canopy identically, with a criss-cross pattern in stone - & quite different from the ca. 1890s image above. It would seem that it was rebuilt in stone & that a terrace on its top was added also. An image lower on this page, thought to date from ca. 1885, also has that criss-cross pattern. Knowing when the reconstruction work took place would surely permit the images to be better dated.
Richard Baylaender of Illinois has kindly been in touch in Nov. 2016. Richard has a particular interest in Shepheard's Hotel since his great grandfather partly owned, for many years, a book publishing business in the city of Cairo, which business included a book store located within the hotel. Richard has also provided a large advertising page that appeared in a 'turn-of-the-century' travel guide & features both Shepheard's & the Ghizireh Palace hotels. Thanks Richard!
Amelia Edwards, in her classic 'A Thousand Miles Up The Nile', talks of The Shepheard's Hotel of her day (1873).
'Here assemble daily some two to three hundred persons of all ranks, nationalities and pursuits;" and "Here are invalids in search of health; artists in search of subjects; sportsmen keen upon crocodiles; statesmen out for a holiday; special correspondents alert for gossip; collectors on the scent of papyri and mummies; men of science with only scientific ends in view; and the usual surplus of idlers who travel for the mere love of travel, or the satisfaction of a purposeless curiosity'.
Blanche McManus, in her 1911 work 'The American Woman Abroad', penned these interesting words:
'One gets another view of exotic life from the orchestra seats on the terrace of Shepheard's Hotel overlooking the only original streets of Cairo. Shepheard's holds its own among world-famous hostelries, in spite of the more gorgeous and more modern big European-like hotels that have sprung into social prominence in the neighbourhood since Cairo became an international rendezvous for travellers between the West and East a half century or more ago. As a diversified amusement nothing quite takes the place of the "Terrace" at Shepheard's in the height of season, say about February, when the chairs before the little wicker tea tables under the gay Oriental hangings are all taken, and a crowd, clothed in all colours, and of all degrees of celebrity and brilliance, is gathered to hear the band play, gossip and watch the multi-coloured population of this most cosmopolitan of Oriental cities drift ceaselessly past.'
I was most interested to read the following text - just a few of the words that used to appear on a page at 'SouthCoastToday.com'. "What stands for Shepheard's in Cairo today is an gigantic, glass-and-steel, five-star hotel with the same name built in 1957 a few miles west on the east bank of the Nile. What stood for the hotel in the movie "The English Patient", was partly Venice's Hotel des Bains, and mostly a large set at the Cinecitta Studio in Rome, designed from pictures of the old Shepheard's and interiors inspired by another famous Cairo hotel of the period, the Windsor. The Windsor Hotel was also badly damaged in the riots of 1952, but it survives reasonably intact two blocks from the original site of Shepheard's. Before it was a hotel, it served as the British Officer's Club, and thus was the real-life setting for one of the most famous scenes in moviedom -- T. E. Lawrence's triumphant return to Cairo after the taking of Aqaba in 'Lawrence of Arabia'. Today, the Windsor is run-down and caters mostly to backpackers, but it's loaded with seedy Victorian atmosphere. Michael Palin stayed there when filming the Egypt episode of his 'Around the World in 80 Days' series, and numerous framed stills in the lobby attest to the many times the place has been used as a movie location. The desk clerk assured me "English Patient" author Michael Ondaatje stayed there when researching his novel." We sincerely thank and credit the source of those words, 'SouthCoastToday.com' of New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Another G. Lekegian albumen image, which came long ago in fact from the very same e-Bay vendor as the Lekegian image above. Again, the image was adjusted. And it is just a part of an original rather larger image. This image archive, which has the identical image on site, dates the image to ca. 1885.
I provide here, a part of an image of the hotel in the early 1900s, along with the luggage label used by the hotel for decades. Labels such as this are available from time to time from vendors on e-Bay. I saw one listing for just such a label on e-Bay that said that the label is artist signed, "Mario Borgoni". The photograph, dating from prior to 1908, came from a book sold on e-Bay. Following that is an envelope that is of some visual interest & another Shepheard's Hotel luggage label, both of date unknown, & both also originating on e-Bay.
Now, dare I repeat it here? A long gone WWW site talked in a book review of the street behind Shepheard's & named Haret el Wasser. It would seem to be a few words from "The Battle of the Wazzir" (I cannot spot the author's name) & tells us as follows:
"The 'Wazzir' or 'Wozzer', was a street known as the Haret el Wasser, which lay at the rear of Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo. It consisted mainly of brothels and was much frequented by the New Zealand and Australian troops, when they were quartered in Egypt. Many of them, of course, suffered 'casualties', and prior to the departure for Gallipoli the troops decided to even the score. A number of soldiers primed with the bad liquor sold in the neighborhood, fired the houses and a riot ensued. Despite efforts by British troops and the Cairo Fire Brigade, much damage was caused, to the great satisfaction of the soldiers concerned. Censorship tried to smother news of the incident, hence the elimination of the poem from the book."
Most times, when I find a new subject of interest & try to do some limited research on the WWW, for my interest & hopefully for yours too, I end up disappointed. And so it seems to be with Shepheard's. One would think that it would be easy to find quality data about a hotel so very famous, but it seems not to be so. There must be many accounts by visitors over the decades, of descriptive & anecdotal interest. And many images also including images of the famous 'Long Bar'. The data is all out 'there' somewhere, I am sure, but where?
A listing of items that would, if available, add to my limited body of knowledge of Shepheard's Hotel. Some day I will gain access to them or hopefully find them at a reasonable price.
1 'Samuel Shepheard of Cairo', by Michael J. Bird, published by Michael Joseph Ltd., London, 1957 A biography, I understand, of Samuel Shepheard, founder and proprietor of the hotel. 2 'Shepheard's Hotel' by Nina Nelson, first published 1960 by Barrie & Rockliff. Republished in 1974 by Cedric Chivers. A history of the hotel, I understand.
If you could help in any way, do drop me a line.
This page will then expand as I introduce additional data that interests me & may well interest you also. But a reminder as always. This page and the pages to which the above links take you, are designed for a 1024 x 768 screen setting.