Those of you who have been painstakingly searching for a venue to host your three-legged biathlon, take a deep sigh of relief. I have found a location that not only covers the stipulated 800m distance but also provides aquatic facilities.
Built from 1877 – 1881, the 200 000 kilolitre water storage facility was commissioned by Premier John Molteno. The shell of a power plant and now missing its smoke stack is the Graaf Electric Lighting Works, the first hydro-electric plant in South Africa and also the first power plant in Cape Town. However, if we’re talking architecture and power, the new timber guardhouse beside it surely trumps out. The little man inside it came to me and deleted a large portion of my images seemingly at random.
Industrial by nature, the site is not an obvious space of recreation. Save for the solitary precast Greco bench, the site does nothing to welcome visitors. The ground is pot-holed asphalt, the grass, trees and bushes are unkempt. An ancient rotten skeleton of a bench sits beside a ramshackle guardhouse. Yes, to say the visitor is considered is to tell an easily read lie.
It is a pleasant walk (or run) though; it must be something about the changing aspect of the surrounding scenery which is enchanting. The mountain looms like a lush mossy garden wall at your back whilst the city paves a floor below you off towards the ocean and endless horizon. Beside you is the still mountain water resting in this rather antiquated reservoir. The solid stone walls are dotted with rusting hooks, some of which suspend a green across the berth. Its purpose unknown, it remains a curiosity of the meander.
Not unlike the folly we find positioned off-centre of the reservoir. It surely serves/served a purpose at some point. Accessed by a yellow and black girder bridge, the rounded hut is a bit like the architectural prop to a Rapunzel meets Atlantis fairy tale.
Whatever its purpose may have been, it is likely it has now been replaced by this contraption: a vital well-ruler-wine bottle contraption with access restricted by a forceful barrier.
While the reservoir is a fantastic space and usable by the public it hardly is encouraged by the management who have instructed security to fiercely enforce the draconian rules prohibiting everything save running or walking(these images are illegal).
This space could be so much more; convert the shell of a power plant into a restaurant or function venue, build a pontoon and allow people to swim. In no time you’ll have a popular and profoundly unique Cape Town space that is also a tourist attraction and the best part is everything is already there!
Grab a friend,tie your legs together and go see for yourself…
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