Molteno gets makeover

2015-09-15 06:00

Renovations are on the cards for a heritage building at the Molteno Reservoir in Oranjezicht.

The building, which once housed the Graaff Electric Lighting Works and was inaugurated in 1895, was the City of Cape Town’s first power station.

The sustainability of a water heritage route, including the possibility of establishing a museum at this building, is currently being studied, says Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services.

“A water heritage route would provide residents and visitors with the opportunity to visit the City’s water heritage assets, giving them insight into the challenges that Cape Town has faced and overcome over several centuries to ensure that residents have access to this life-giving resource,” he says.

The Molteno Reservoir was completed in 1881 and is the city’s oldest reservoir that is still in use. It is also the city’s fifth largest reservoir.

Plans to restore the building have been approved by Heritage Western Cape, Sonnenberg says.

The City is now starting with the process to convert the building to serve a heritage function.

“It has been proposed that the building in question be refurbished to function as a museum store or ablution facility. As part of this refurbishment, the building will be restored as closely as possible to its original aesthetic,” he says.

The building currently houses transformers.

A number of these historic facilities, such as the brick-lined water tunnels near the Castle and the water supply dams on Table Mountain, are still being used today.

Cape Town’s water supply was initially sourced from springs and streams on Table Mountain, but the rapid expansion of the city’s population necessitated the construction of dams and reservoirs, Sonnenberg explains.

“The open storage reservoir at Molteno in Oranjezicht, for example, was commissioned in 1852, followed by the construction of the Table Mountain dams between 1896 and 1951 and the water treatment plants at Constantia Nek and Kloof Nek,” he says

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