PS Speke

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Name: Speke
Namesake: English explorer John Hanning Speke
Operator: Uganda Railway 1910–29; Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours 1929–48; East African Railways and Harbours Corporation 1948–62
Port of registry: Flag of the Uganda Protectorate.svg
Route: Lake Kyoga and the Victoria Nile
In service: 1910[1]
Out of service: 1962[2]
General characteristics
Type: river ferry and pusher tug
Tonnage: 90 tons[2]
Installed power: 175 IHP compound steam engine[2]
Propulsion: stern wheel paddle[2]
Capacity: 6 first class & 4 second class passengers[2]
Crew: 20[2]

PS Speke was a British stern wheel paddle steamer in Uganda. She was built for the Uganda Railway in 1910 to operate on Lake Kyoga and the Victoria Nile. First and second class passengers travelled aboard the steamer but she also pushed a barge or lighter on which cargo and third class passengers travelled.[3]

Speke was bought initially to operate part of what eventually became a rail, ship and road route between the Uganda Railway and Lake Albert. The first stage of this route was the Busoga Railway between Jinja and Lake Kyoga. The original lakeside terminus for the railway was Kikundu, but when that site was found unsuitable the terminus was moved a few miles north to Namasagali. Speke was the first vessel to operate the route across Lake Kyoga to Masindi, from where Albion cars later provided a road service to Lake Albert at Butiaba.[4]

Although Speke began operating in 1910, delays in laying railway track delayed completion of the Busoga Railway until 1913.[4] The Uganda Railway later augmented the service by adding the stern-wheelers PS Stanley in 1913 and PS Grant in 1925.[1][4] All three Lake Kyoga vessels resembled typical Mississippi steamboats of the era.[4] After Stanley entered service, Speke and her barges were used mainly to carry cotton for export from nearby plantations.[4]

When the railway operator's successor, the East African Railways and Harbours Corporation (EARH), completed its northern Uganda extension from Tororo to Pakwach it superseded the Victoria Nile ferry service.[1] EARH withdrew Speke, Stanley and Grant from service in 1962[1] and offered Speke for sale in September of that year.[2] The track of the Busoga Railway was lifted in 1964.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Cambridge University Library: Royal Commonwealth Society Library, Mombasa and East African Steamers, Y30468L". Janus. Cambridge University Library. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Gazette Notice No 4179; East Africa Railways & Harbours; "Tender for the Purchase of the Stern-Wheel Steamer "Speke" and Five Lighters". Kenya Gazette. LXIV. 1962-09-18. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  3. ^ McCrow, Malcolm. "Mbulamuti for Namasagali - Congo, Sudan and Egypt". East African Railways and Harbours. Malcolm McCrow. Retrieved 2011-05-23. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Amin, Mohamed; Willetts, Duncan; Matheson, Alastair (1986). Railway Across The Equator:The Story of the East African Line. London: The Bodley Head. pp. 15, 138–141. ISBN 0-370-30774-7.