oa South African Journal of Cultural History - Die watermeulens van Potchefstroom, 1874-1888

Volume 7, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1011-3053



The nine water-mills which were built on the northern outskirts of the townlands represented the first industries in the Transvaal. The first mill was built there in 1847. After that some 17 years passed during which time attempts to establish more mills failed. During the decades after 1864, however, there was a proliferation of watermills due to the production of grain in the area and the abundance of water in the Mooi River. As none of the 10 mills was situated on the river an extensive network of mill-furrows was created. The poor maintainance of furrows and bridges was the cause of endless complaints. Mill rights were granted subject to strict conditions, but a serious omissiom was that no speciflc allotment of water was made for milling purposes. This resulted in clashes and lawsuits over water rights between millers, farmers and the municipality as owner of the townlands. Celebrated court cases over the use of water from the river were those involving J.J. Hoffman, C.H. Baillie and I. Hjul. The fate of the water-mills was sealed by an ever increasing demand by the expanding town for water and the advent steam power.

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