About Molteno Reservoir

The Molteno Reservoir is a 200 000 kilolitre water storage facility just above De Waal Park in Oranjezicht. It’s the city’s oldest water reservoir and still in service. It’s also rather pretty; the locals walk their dogs here, or jog around its perimeter where it lies surrounded by palm trees; set in amongst a series of Victorian houses that date back to when Cape Town was a small colony.

Did you know? The Molteno Reservoir is an historical landmark open to the public, built between 1877 and 1881, and named for the city’s first prime minister - John Molteno.

Latest news is that the City of Cape Town are playing with the idea of a water heritage route that will include establishing a museum at the reservoir, restoring the now rather tired building that used to house the Graaff Electric Lighting Works back in 1895 - Cape Town’s first power station.

Cape Town, back then, got its water by way of a mountain stream off Table Mountain that flowed through the city in canals, or grachts (the reason for Buitengracht, Kaizergracht and Adderley street, built to cover the canals when they became ‘dangerous to public health’ because they were used as dumping grounds).

With the expansion and growth of Cape Town the government decided to build the dam. Interestingly, for the first two years after its completion in 1880 the dam stood empty due to unusually low levels of winter rain. When the drought finally broke, the dam filled beyond its capacity, buckling the eastern wall and sending a wave of water down through the city.

It took a further four years to repair the dam which then kept the city in water for decades, until the 20th century far outgrew its capacity. Molteno dam still supplies water to parts of the city centre including the Company’s Garden.

Interestingly the Molteno spring (one of 20 springs that flow through the city bowl off the mountain) forms part of a series of natural waterways known collectively as Camissa - the original Khoi name for Cape Town that means ‘sweet waters’.

Need to Know

WhereMolteno Reservoir, Oranjezicht, City Bowl, Cape Town, South Africa

WhenDaylight hours.

OvernightStay in Oranjezicht Accommodation, Cape Town

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