"Canoes around the steamer."
Fisch, Rudolf (Mr)
date early : 1885-01-01.0., date late : 1908-12-31.0.

"Accra harbour."
Fisch, Rudolf (Mr)
date early : 1885-01-01.0., date late : 1911-12-31.0.

"Produce in boat ready for shipment, Accra."
date late : 1917-12-31.0.

1 | 2 | 3

The Transport Revolution and the Transformation of Commerce:
Steamships, Trains and Lorries

The advent of steamships in the 1850s transformed the nature of commerce. The travel time between West Africa and Europe was reduced dramatically. Goods and services moved at a faster pace, and several European firms stationed European agents along the West Africa coast. Natural harbors, or where these did not exist surf ports, such as those of Accra and Sekondi (Ghana), were important in the export of African produce and the import of European manufactured goods. In D-30.01.001, canoes surround a steamer at the Accra harbor. These canoes were used for loading (D-30.01.008) and offloading (D-30.01.009) goods until the construction of deepwater ports enabled ships to be anchored in harbors.
Railway construction in the Gold Coast began in 1898 in the coastal village of Sekondi. Rail lines were constructed by the colonial government to link interior mines with the natural harbor at Sekondi. Railways revolutionized transport and facilitated the development of mechanized mining as machinery could now be moved from the harbor to interior mines, and bulk goods like timberand cocoa, which became the prop of Ghana’s economy, could be transported to the coast. Railway lines were constructed from Sekondi to mining areas such as Tarkwa, Prestea and Obuasi, and to large commercial and administrative towns such as Accra and Kumase. The first train reached Kumase in 1903 (D-30.18.027) and the Kumase railway station is seen in D-30.18.031. Lorries were introduced into the Gold Coast in the early 1900s, and the first Motor Traffic Ordinance was passed for the Gold Coast in 1907. Ford trucks were imported on a significant scale into the Gold Coast during the 1910s. Lorries replaced head porterage, initially depriving some laborers of employment, but it soon became the main grid for commerce in the Gold Coast. The Basel Mission Trading Company was an important outlet for the sale and maintenance of lorries. D-30.02.015 shows a number of lorries in the compound of the Basel Mission Trading Company with several European employees visible. Workshops were established for the repair and servicing of these lorries, and we see the motor repair shop of the Basel Mission trading Company in D-30.02.016. The advent of lorries also changed the nature of colonial rule, as it cut down on the length of treks by European district commissioners, who now drove. It reduced contacts between European colonial officials and colonized Africans, and colonialism assumed a more formal face.