The Hurling Pump

Landmarks / National Monuments in or near Oranjezicht, City Bowl in Cape Town, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Hurling Pump

Where? Corner of Prince and Sir George Grey Streets, Oranjezicht, Cape Town

Overnight? Accommodation in Oranjezicht, in Western Cape

The Hurling Pump is one of the only remaining historical water pumps in Cape Town. You'll find it on the corner of Prince and Sir George Grey Streets, a little piece of surviving history from the the late 19th century when everyone in Cape Town had still to collect their household water (no running taps in those days).

Public fountains brought water off Table Mountain into the city, generally placed in central areas, like on Grand Parade and Greenmarket Square. It usually fell to one of the household slaves to fetch and carry water on a daily basis.

Over time, households no longer had direct access to mountain streams. Water was, instead, captured in dams higher up on Table Mountain and diverted along wooden waterways and iron pipes into wells as part of an improved water scheme for the city designed by Sir John Cradock in 1812.

Above each well was a pump house with a swinging pump. These were known as Hurling pumps after the Swede, Jan Frederick Hurling, who is credited with inventing the concept.

Slaves would swing the weighted handle from side-to-side producing water from a pipe, often from the mouth of a bronze lion, like the Hurling Pump on Prince Street.

This particular pump was designed by Louis Michel Thibault, the French architect, who regularly worked together with the sculptor Anton Anreith who, in this case, created the lion's head. Other of Anreith's works include the Kat Balcony at the Castle of Good Hope, and the gable statue of Abundantia at the Groot Constantia homestead.

Also known as a swaai pump, this particular rendition was declared a national monument in 1937.

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