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Born: 1845
Died: 1925 05

Engineer / Artist

Year registered: 1902

Born in Mainz, Germany. Artist and engineer, was a member of the (British) Institution of Civil Engineers. In February 1890 he published a comprehensive paper on 'The Forth bridge', the cantilever railway bridge over the Firth of Forth in Scotland.

He emigrated to the Cape Colony and on 6 August 1892 he was appointed as engineer in the DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS of the CAPE COLONY, a position he held until he retired on pension in 1904. In 1903 he submitted to the Cape Parliament his Report on the proposed construction of a fishing harbour at Kalk Bay. He was responsible for the design of three arched bridges, one in Swellendam of 7,2 m and two of 10,8 m span on the George-Knysna road, using a Bastard construction of steel girders buried in mass concrete so as to impede rusting. He considered their strength equal to those bridges constructed of masonry although the volume of concrete used was thought an embarrassment. Because the construction technique is not considered true reinforced concrete these are not credited as the earliest examples of such bridge construction techniques in South Africa, a credit that goes to Henry Putt Bridge, the first wagon bridge over the Kowie in Port Alfred. He seems to have maintained some connection with the Public Works Department until 1910.

In 1902 Westhofen became a foundation member of the Cape Society of Civil Engineers and was elected joint vice-president of the society. Having served in this capacity until 1905 and as a member of council for the next year, he was elected president in 1907. During these years he delivered two papers that were published in the society's Minutes of Proceedings, 'Materials for bridge construction in Cape Colony' (15 June 1904) and 'The erection of the Colesberg road bridge' (11 July 1906). He was still a member of the society's successor, the South African Society of Civil Engineers, in 1913.

Westhofen was a foundation member also of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science (and his wife an associate member). He served on its council as honorary treasurer from the association's beginning in 1902 to at least 1905. At its first annual congress, held in Cape Town in 1903, he contributed a paper on 'The irrigation question in South Africa', in which he blamed the slow progress in the development of local irrigation schemes on the lack, until then recently, of political support and capital. He was a member of the South African Philosophical Society from 1892 to at least 1898. In the latter year he presented a single snake to the South African Museum in Cape Town.

His artistic talents found expression in the illustration of three books: The Cape Peninsula: being pen and colour sketches (1910), Six South African scenes and verse (1925) and Twelve South African scenes and verse (1925). He also held exhibitions of his art. In 1914 he was appointed as one of the trustees of the South African Art Gallery, a position from which he resigned in 1925, the year of his death.

During 1905-1907 his address was Southfield House, Plumstead. He died in Cape Town, South Africa.

[Fredman 1964:33-34; extensive text additions after Plug (RCF, 2018 08 03)].

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.


Juta, Réné & Westhofen, W (Author; Artist). 1910. Cape peninsula ; The. Cape Town: Juta

Kolbe, FC & Westhofen, W (Poet; Artist). 1925. Twelve South African scenes and verse. [Cape Town]: Juta

Kolbe, Frederick Charles & Westhofen, W . 1925. Six South African scenes and verse. Cape Town: Juta

Books citing WESTHOFEN

S2A3 (Plug, C - Project Leader and main compiler). 2002-. S2A3 biographical database of southern African science. Webspace: WWW. pp Accessed 12 January 2016