Source of image: Museum Victoria.
By 1874, British shipping dominated traffic through the Suez Canal by four to one. Yet, it was owned solely by French shareholders and the Egyptian ruler. The two parties had come together in 1869 to form the Suez Canal Company. At that time, there were several countries interested in buying additional shares of the canal. The French were the most serious contenders, but Great Britain was able to secure the shares. This allowed England to expand the commercial integrity of its empire, particularly in South and Southeast Asia.