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Peking-Hankow (1899-1905)

chantier du pont sur le fleuve Jaune
  • chantier du pont sur le fleuve Jaune
  • pkin_hankou_-_vers_1904.jpg

Peking-Hankow (1899-1905)

China's first railway line

From July 9 to 28

At the turn of the 20th century, three forerunner banks of the BNP Paribas Group arranged the financing of one of the greatest public works projects of that era: the construction of a railway line from Beijing to Hankow, a distance of over 1,200 kilometers.

Determined to preserve national sovereignty and also faced with the need to restore Imperial power, which had been severely shaken by the Taiping Rebellion (1851-1864), a number of Chinese high government officials came to realise the inadequacy of the means of transportation across the Empire. China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1895 reinforced the conviction of this elite group that if China wished to survive as a sovereign state, the country must modernise. The first step in this process of modernisation would be the construction of a modern railway network. Although work on a number of railway lines had been undertaken towards the end of the 19th and in the early 20th century, from a Chinese point of view, the most strategically important rail project was the track running from Peking to Hankow along the Yangtze River, sometimes known as the Blue River. Ever since the Great Canal linking Peking to the Yangtze valley had been allowed to silt up, there no longer existed any major north-south transport artery. China's great rivers flow East-West but a north-south route was vital for trade, especially movements of foodstuffs - delivering to the north of the country the rice and sorghum grown on the fertile plains of the south.
Supervision of the construction work was entrusted to a 37 year old Belgian engineer named Jean Jadot. 
In spite of the many and varied difficulties, the railway was completed in seven years (1898-1905).  It was inaugurated on 14 November 1915

This exhibit is achieved  by Archives et Histoire - Groupe BNP Paribas et Arts Collection & Historical Archives BNP Paribas Fortis

Useful informations

Free admission
Tuesday through Sunday from 10a.m.to 6 p.m., closed on Mondays and bank holidays (14 July)

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