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Woodhead Reservoir
Cape Town, Western Cape

Thomas STEWART: Engineer

Date:1893-1897
Type:Reservoir
Status:Extant


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33°58'38.11" S 18°24'07.64" E Alt: 724m
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Woodhead Reservoir gets its name from the mayor who laid the foundation stone on the first of May 1897, Sir John Woodhead J.P.

The summit plateau of Table Mountain, with an average rainfall of 1600mm, is an ideal water catchment, and the Back Table contains five reservoirs including this one. The others being Hely-Hutchinson, Victoria, Alexandra and De Villiers. The five reservoirs have a combined capacity of 2273m litres. For a long time these were the city's main sources of water. Some of the water is carried down Table Mountain by means of two tunnels, the Woodhead and Apostles tunnels, 1313 metres in length through Wood Buttress, to a filtration plant above Kloof Nek.

During the same period, the last decade of the 19th century, saw the establishment of the Tokai plantations and the commencement of tree-planting on a large scale on Table Mountain and Devil's Peak.

At the time of completion the Woodhead and Hely-Hutchinson reservoirs were considered engineering triumphs.

Transcription of plaque:

INTERNATIONAL HISTORIC CIVIL ENGINEERING LANDMARK

WOODHEAD DAM

BUILT BETWEEN 1893 AND 1897, THE WOODHEAD DAM WAS THE FIRST LARGE
MASONRY DAM IN SOUTH AFRICA. A REGIONAL WATER SYSTEM WITH A MAJOR
RESERVOIR WAS A BOLD VENTURE REQUIRING DIFFICULT CONSTRUCTION IN A
REMOTE AREA. INNOVATIVE TECHNIQUES, INCLUDING AN AERIAL CABLEWAY TO
CARRY MATERIALS, WERE NEEDED. THE DAM'S SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION PAVED THE
WAY FOR SISTER DAMS THAT CONTINUE TO SUPPLY WATER TO CAPE TOWN AND
ENVIRONS AND ESTABLISHED YOUNG THOMAS STEWART, THE ENGINEER WHO
DESIGNED AND MANAGED THE PROJECT, AS A LEADING WATER ENGINEER AND
RELIABLE CONSULTANT. STEWART IS KNOWN AS THE FATHER OF CONSULTING
ENGINEERING IN SOUTH AFRICA.
PRESENTED
BY THE
SOUTH AFRICAN INSTITUTE OF CIVIL ENGINEERING
AND THE
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS
1 AUGUST 2008


Writings about this entry

Luckhoff, Carl August in collaboration with Gohl, Colin and Versveld, Martin. 1951. Table Mountain : our national heritage after three hundred years. Cape Town: AA Balkema . pg 114
Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1974. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 10 Sle-Tun. Cape Town: Nasou. pg 399
Shorten, John R. 1963. Cape Town : A record of the Mother City from the earliest days to the present. Cape Town: JR Shorten in association with Shorten and Smith Publications. pg 336
South African National Committee on Large Dams. 1994. Large dams and water systems in South Africa. Pretoria: SANCOLD. pg 220