There are many things to do and see on a hiking trip up Table Mountain, if you are looking for something new to do then you should definitely check out the Waterworks Museum on Table Mountain. The iconic Waterworks Museum is very interesting and takes you back in time, it was the source of the establishment of the dams that exist on the mountain and a stop here on your hike up Table Mountain is really interesting. You’ll also be able to learn a bit more about the history that contributed to Table Mountain as we know it today.
What is the Waterworks Museum?
The Waterworks Museum is the place where you’ll learn all about how the first two dams namely the “Woodhead Resivoir” and the “Hely-Hutchinson” came about, as well as view the old tools used for construction back then.
The museum was established in 1972 by Terence Timoney, a retired Waterworks engineer. It is located between the Woodhead and the Hely-Hutchinson Reservoirs. There are many Table Mountain hiking routes that will lead you get here. You can start from the Constantia Neck which is probably the most popular route used to get there, it’s not too steep and lots of fun. Alternatively you can hike up Kasteelspoort or Skeleton Gorge and walk across – they will both take you right there.
Where it all began…
The Waterworks Museum contains a variety of treasured items that help build the dams located on Table Mountain; these include hand tools, the old steam locomotive and other items used in construction.
The steam locomotive is the main feature of the Waterworks Museum and this “works no 826” model was built by Andrew Barkley, a Scottish steam locomotive engineer and founder of Andrew Barkley Sons & Co. The company built this very locomotive in Scotland where it was later sent off to South Africa on 7 October 1898. However, it was first purchased by Davis & Soper of London who is said to have been an agent for the Corporation of The City of Cape Town, the Municipality responsible for building the dams on Table Mountain. When the locomotive arrived at Cape Town Harbor, it had to be disassembled and the parts taken up the mountain via the steam cable
The little locomotive was used to transport equipment and tools from the cable station to the construction sites of the reservoirs as well as taking dressed stone and blocks to the working sites of the dam walls. Needless to say, the locomotive played a major role in the efficient construction of the dams.
The museum is open every day of the (with exception of certain bad weather conditions during winter when it is shut)week. However, you can call the manager on duty at the Newlands Reservoir if you’re planning to visit during winter, to make certain whether or not the museum is open on the day you hike on Table Mountain.
The only way to get to the museum is by hiking as it is located on the back of Table Mountain about 800m above sea level, this makes its location great for scenic photographs of the surrounding landscapes.