Omar, and his cousin Amer, took me to Omar’s Mother’s old home on the banks of the Nile. We rode, three of us on a motorbike, on small roads through the sugar-cane fields and banana plantations. (The amount of people who can ride a single bike here is a whole other blog!).
When we got to our destination, (Omar didn’t tell me where we were going as it was a surprise!) we had to walk through the banana plantation which his uncle owns. I was wearing flip-flops (wish he had told me we were going to be traipsing through mud!) which became a very messy and ‘heavy-footed affair. Wellies would have been the best option but I never thought to take them with me from the UK. Surprisingly enough!
When we reached our ‘surprise’ destination I was shown an old brick building which housed a water pump! This pumped water from the Nile to irrigate all the surrounding fields. It had belonged to Omar’s grandfather and his mother and her brothers and sisters had been born here and lived here until they moved to Al Korna, away from the Nile and close to the valley of the kings.
His grandfather had owned the land around the pump-house and had spent his whole life here, working the pump and keeping his fields. He built a farm around it with lots of fruit trees and vegetables which fed his entire family. When he died his land was divided up and his brother got this land which he turned into a banana plantation.
As you can see from the photo the level of the Nile was a lot higher in those days. It has receded a lot and is now quite a distance away from the pump-house.
Inside the pump-house was an old Ruston and Horns-by water pump, made in Britain. Much of the metal had been removed and sold but some remained.
When we got home I did some research to try and find out about the pump and found a really good site about old Ruston pumps. I emailed the photos I had taken to the author of the site to find out where it might have come from and how old it was. I also sent him the serial number. He was unable to find the exact the exact model based on the number but he did give me what he thought it might be. He suggested that:
“Your machine is the Ruston oil engine that would have driven a pump. I am not able to find an entry in the Sales Register for No.420739. However, I found an entry for No.429739. This was a model 3HRO, sold on 28.1.1959, to the Egyptian Engineering Stores,Cairo, for irrigation work. It was rated 18hp at 400rpm. Can you check the plate again, to see if it is stamped 3HRO and No.429739.”
As it turns out, on closer inspection it was indeed the same model!
When we got home and showed Omar’s mother the photos and the film which Omar had filmed there, she saw one photo of the window which had banana trees growing outside. She still could see the fruit trees in the garden which used to be there when she lived there. But, in reality, they no longer existed.
We considered renovating the building and the machine so we could preserve it for future generations but we’re not sure if anyone would be interested!! But who knows? Perhaps its a possibility…