The Old Groaner Dalaman 1906
Le Directeur Général
Construction de Paris et la Société de développement June 15 1905 [Translated by JL]
I am writing in regard to our order of January 1905. [Your Ref; Dlm Lyc 3352 1905]
I think there may have been a mix-up with our order. I very clearly ordered a ten bedroom house with servant’s quarters, two kitchens, a very large dining room, a grand majlis, harem quarters and a modern style living room. My architect’s drawings showed the front elevation to be neo-classical whilst the rear and side elevations were in a new style which my architect is developing for what he intends to call “Picture Palaces”.
The first indication that something was wrong was when my chaps unwrapped the first of the 20 very long thin and heavy packages and discovered that we had taken delivery of a lot of railway lines! Thinking that I could later sell them on, perhaps only as scrap, I ordered that they be put to one side and that the men start building my new house.
Unfortunately I was then called away to a meeting in Constantinople and was off the site for a full two weeks. When I returned I was astonished to see that the building bore little or no resemblance to the blue-prints which we had sent you, and was far smaller than I had expected. I could not image there being room for ten bedrooms and the grand majlis. On entering the front door of my new home I found myself to be in what seemed to be a railway booking office and the very plain door off to the right led into a room big enough for a maximum of twenty people sitting on the hard wooden benches fitted along the walls. This should have been my grand majlis.
Further inspection revealed two very utilitarian toilets and not even one bedroom. The only kitchen and its adjacent dining room looks more like a works canteen than the beautiful rooms my architect had designed. Could it be that the wrong kit was delivered to us? I rushed down to the wharf where the cargo was unloaded but found nothing down there and, of course, the ship was long gone.
I would be most grateful if you would consult with your shipping agent and ascertain what it is that we are building here and the whereabouts of the lovely house I intended to build on the Aegean? If it is of any help the railway lines bear the annotation “Alx Egt 3398 1905” on the wrapping.
Kind Regards from,
Dear Mr Lefebve ,
Thank you for your reply which I put on record as being delivered a full four months after the dispatch of mine of June 15.
I am dismayed that you are attempting to place all the blame for the mistake on your shipping agent. It is with yourselves that I have the contract and to yourselves that I have paid the 90% of the full purchase price. Needless to say I am retaining the 10% which you say was due on receipt of the cargo because I do not consider the cargo to have been delivered.
We have now completed the railway station so that it will be weatherproof by the time of the first rains which are due at any time now. I would be grateful if you would contact the managing director of The Egyptian Railway Authority and request him to halt work on the construction of my house pending a mutually satisfactory solution to the problem we both have.
Dear Mr Lefebve,
Your reply reveals a complete disregard for your contractual obligations. If the Arabs find my house to be to their liking and a fair swap for their railway station that does not change the fact that I have absolutely no use for a railway station on my Dalaman plantation. I have consulted with my cousin who has a senior position with Chemin de Fer Imperial Ottoman de Baghdad [CIOB] and he tells me that they currently have no plans for a branch line in the direction of the south coast of this province and sees no need for such a line in the foreseeable future, this being a somewhat sparsely populated corner of the Empire.
I again insist that you arrange either for the dismantling of the two buildings and their delivery to the correct destinations or the delivery at no further cost to myself of a new kit which should accord exactly with the plans and specifications which I trust are still in your possession. Upon such a delivery I shall, of course, release the 10% retention money from bond.
Dear Mr Lefebve,
That I am now occupying the building is completely irrelevant and a 12% refund is an insult; that money, together with the pittance I received for the rail lines barely covers what I had to pay to have the rails, mistakenly laid by my imbecile foreman, ripped up and delivered to the scrap merchant in Smyrna. This inefficiency on the part of your company, your shipping agent and those Arabs has cost me dearly and I do not intend to let this matter drop.
Dear Mr Lefebve,
I found the tone of your latest mail very unhelpful and your suggestion that I house my harem in one of my citrus-fruit barns was clearly intended to be an insult.
However I am prepared to offer you the only solution to the problem that comes to mind which would minimize my losses. If you can send me just seven Kilometers of rail track and a small locomotive with several carriages, I think I might have a use for the station; if not now then perhaps a few years in the future.
I look forward to your early reply.
Kind Regards from,
In 1906, the Alexandria train station was built by mistake in Dalaman. The building still exists and serves today as the headquarters of the state farm. The year before the construction (1905), Abbas Hilmi Pasha (then Khedive of Egypt) had acquired a large part of the fertile plain and had decided to set up a plantation in the region.
He had ordered the plans and the material for his projected residence there to his architects in France at the same time as the plans and the material for a train station for Alexandria in Egypt.
Resource: Today’s Zaman, John Laughland