n Historia - On Laburn's 'mystery' query : a prehistory of the Vaal River as water source of the Witwatersrand (1887-99)

Volume 45, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0018-229X



The discovery of gold and subsequent development of Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand as from 1886 gave rise to a signficant growth in the demand for water. In a 1979 publication, R. Laburn explained that it was a 'mystery' why the Vaal River was not already put to use in the nineteenth century to provide water to one of the largest industrial conurbations in Southern Africa. In the study an attempt is made at providing some answers. It appears as if practical and political considerations prevented the Vaal River - which in the twentieth century became the major supplier of water to the Witwatersrand - from being used. It was an expensive venture. There were however also a number of political factors which undermined the plans which had been made from as early as 1889.

Die ontdekking van goud en die daaropvolgende ontwikkeling van Johannesburg en die Witwatersrand vanaf 1886, het tot 'n aansienlike vraag na water aanleiding 156. TA, SS4940, pp. 76-8. R628/91 at R7835/95. C. Schürmann and F.C. Eloff, Pretoria - State President and members of the Executive Council, 1891.01.16; TA, SS4377, p. 13. Johannesburg Waterworks, Estate and Exploration Company, Limited. Director's Report and accounts of the company for the year ending 30th June 1893; TA, SS7164, pp. 75-6. R5472/98 at R5115/98. A. Crawford, Pretoria - State President and Members of the Executive Council, Pretoria, 1898.04.30. 114.Prehistory of the Vaal River gegee. In 'n 1979-publikasie het R.J. Laburn verklaar dat dit 'n "misterie" was dat die Vaalrivier nie reeds in die negentiende eeu ingespan is om die grootste industriële konnurbasie in Suider-Afrika van water te voorsien nie. In die studie word gepoog om sekere antwoorde te gee. Dit wil voorkom asof praktiese oorweginge verhoed het dat die Vaalrivier oorweeg word. Die rivier het juis gedurende die twintigste eeu die belangrikste verskaffer van water aan die Witwatersrand geword. Een rede is dat dit 'n duur onderneming sou wees. Daar was egter ook 'n aantal politieke faktore wat beplanning vanaf 1889 verydel het. In die studie word daarop ingegaan.

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