Hope for fountain

This sign has been erected at the corner of Belmont and Main roads where the fountain once stood.

The hole left by Rondebosch’s iconic fountain may finally be filled.

This comes after Heritage Castings, a foundry in Blackheath, completed a replica of the much-loved heritage landmark.

Max Teichmann, the manager of Heritage Castings, said his company had been approached in 2017 by City employee Jacqui Marais to see whether they could reproduce the fountain.

The original cast-iron fountain – which doubled as the country’s first electric street lamp – has been missing from its usual spot on the corner of Belmont and Main roads, Rondebosch, since August 2015, when a traffic accident wrecked it (“Crash ruins fountain,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, August 27, 2015).

In its place stands a pole put up by Heritage Castings, with a sign saying “Where is our Fountain?” and carrying a Facebook link to a page where residents can see updates on the replica.

Since the accident, the City of Cape Town explored various options to repair the fountain, but its answers to questions posed by the Tatler over the years suggested there was little hope it could be repaired.

Last year, the City told the Tatler it was considering using parts from the Mowbray fountain, which was donated by the SPCA in 1890, to repair the Rondebosch Fountain, much to the annoyance of Mowbray residents.

“All of the parts to be repaired and replaced will need to be cast from existing parts of other fountains, such as the Mowbray fountain,” said former Mayco member for transport and urban development Brett Herron at the time.

Mr Herron said it was highly specialised work and the necessary skills were scarce (“Fountain of worries,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, April 26)

A month ago, in response to questions from the Tatler, Marian Nieuwoudt, the City’s Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, said the City was exploring options to repair the fountain, based on its original design.

“Unfortunately, the original foundry in the United Kingdom where the fountain was manufactured no longer exists,” said Ms Nieuwoudt.

But then, Mr Teichmann, whose company specialises in Victorian architectural hardware, contacted the Tatler and invited the reporter to come and look at the completed replica.

He said the most difficult part to reconstruct had been the lantern and crown. The remaining part of the old fountain included the stem, the base and one of the horse legs.

“We set off to produce patterns needed for the reproduction. Some of the components of the original fountain could be used as patterns and a one-to-one replica was made,” he said.

Photographs were used to fill in the gaps.

“None of the photos were close-ups, and the challenge lay in trying to get the scale, dimensions and details as close to the original as possible,” he said.

Mr Teichmann said no money had been donated for the reconstruction and his company had borne all the costs, which he said had been more than
R1 million.

His pattern-maker, Steven Woods, had put in 2 000 hours to manufacture patterns to replicate the fountain.

The replica, which was completed in August, was made from cast aluminium.

Mr Teichmann said Ms Marais had seen the completed replica but he had not heard when the City would be using it.

Ms Nieuwoudt said the City was finalising the legislated process to formally accept a donation to pay for the replica.

“Internal arrangements are being finalised with various City departments to place the fountain in its original position and to provide it with electricity so that the lantern can work,” she said.

Ms Nieuwoudt also said the City was working on landscaping plans to protect the new fountain from accidents in the future.

Residents have been watching the development of the fountain through a series of pictures on Facebook.

Naomi Ward, who works near the intersection, said she had seen officials removing the damaged parts of the fountain.

“They said they are bringing it back but don’t know when,” said Ms Ward.

Stephanie Goosen said it was “wonderful work and dedication”.

Michael Kenmuir said, “Thank you, Mr Steve Wood and your team, for your dedicated work in restoring Rondebosch Fountain.”