25 OCTOBER 1882, Trial pumping of water from the Vaal to Kimberley.
(Pictured is an engraving published in the Illustrated London News of January 1883 showing the Waterworks on the Vaal River.)
DID YOU KNOW
On January 3rd 1883 the diamond field (Kimberley) mining companies were supplied with water extracted from the Vaal River for the first time.
Construction of the works commenced in 1881 and the first trial pumping took place on 25 October 1882. Water was successfully pumped to Kimberley on 21 December 1882. The mining companies of Kimberley were supplied with water on 3 January 1883 and the town from 1 March 1883. The Kimberley Borough Council was notified on 11 April 1883 that the works were complete and in running order.
The history of the supply of water on the diamond fields has a curious beginning.
In 1880 a company named the Griqualand West Railway and Water Company was formed for the purpose of building a railway between Kimberley and the Vaal River, the intention being that the blue ground from the mines would be conveyed to suitable sites along the banks of the river to be treated there. Later it was decided that it would be a better plan to bring the water to the mines and at the same time supply the various townships with water. In pursuance of this project the Waterworks Company was formed to take over the rights of the first company.
Contracts for the supply of the necessary machinery as well as the construction of the pipeline were awarded in London. The main pipeline between the river and the circular reservoir at Newton was at the time of its construction considered a novel feature of waterworks construction. The reason for this was twofold: firstly on account of wrought iron instead of cast iron pipes being used to minimize the cost of transport, and secondly on account of the introduction of a specially designed loose collar joint which proved very successful and became widely known as the “Kimberley Collar.”
The pumping equipment was all steam powered and had a capacity of approximately eight megalitres per day. The river water was pumped from Riverton to the Intermediate pump station at Kamfersdam, settled in a dam, and from there to the Newton Works where it was purified and then distributed. This system lasted until 1940.