Rondebosch fountain restored

Heritage Castings pattern maker, Steve Wood cutting the ribbon, surrounded by his colleagues after the installation of the new Rondebosch fountain last week.

Rondebosch has a new cast aluminium replica of the water fountain which stood for more than 120 years at the intersection of Main and Belmont roads before being wrecked in a car accident five years ago.

The new fountain, donated by Heritage Castings, a company which specialises in Victorian architectural hardware, and the Simon van der Stel Foundation, was installed last Wednesday, September 23.

The original Rondebosch fountain was made from cast iron and was donated by surveyor and railway pioneer, George-Pigot Moodie in 1891.

It was also the country’s first street lamp.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health, Dr Zahid Badroodien says the City recovered the remnants of the fountain after the car crash and held it in safe keeping (“Crash ruins fountain,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, August 27, 2015).

“It was the City’s intention to repair and to restore the fountain to its former glory, however, the fountain was so badly damaged, that it could not be repaired.”

Heritage Castings manager, Max Teichmann, says he was approached by a City official in 2017 to see if they could reproduce the fountain (“Hope for Fountain,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, March 7).

Since then veteran pattern maker at Heritage Castings, Steve Woods, 82, has worked 2000 hours to complete the replica fountain.

“I made the new fountain based on the identical design, the original fountain was smashed and original pieces damaged and I looked at photographs and I still needed to work out the size of the fountain,” says Mr Woods.

“It was wonderful working on this project as it has a strong meaning to Cape Town.”

The fountain was completed in 2018 at a cost of R1 million and was made possible by a R350 000 donation by the Simon van der Stel Foundation, which promotes conservation of South Africa’s national heritage, and the rest was made up by Heritage Castings.

Dr Badroodien says he is excited to see this iconic landmark back to its former state as the fountain has great historical value and was cherished by the Rondebosch community.

He says the City is indebted to its donors.

“The replication and accession process took longer than we would have hoped as there were legal requirements that the City had to adhere to,” he said.

Ward councillor Ian Iversen says he is grateful for the people who made it possible for the fountain to return.

“It has been a marathon getting to this point since the motor vehicle accident.”

Mr Iversen says residents have been contacting him for many years asking him when the fountain would be restored.

“They will be impressed with the sight of the new fountain,” he said.

Mr Teichmann says he is proud of Mr Wood and the Heritage Castings team for restoring the fountain.

Flower seller Naomi Ward, 85, who has been selling flowers along Belmont Road, Rondebosch, for more than 55 years, says she remembers the old fountain. “I am glad the fountain came back, we were used to it and felt like it was an empty space without the fountain,” she says.

Long time Rondebosch resident, Monica Sutherland, 87, says it’s fantastic that the fountain has returned. “We need the fountain and it’s part of Rondebosch’s history.”

Ms Sutherland says wants the new fountain to be protected.

Dr Badoodien says the City does not have specific safety measures against vandalism.

“We rely on the Rondebosch community to keep an eye on the fountain and to report any attempts to damage the fountain.

He says the City does self-insure assets such as the fountain and will endeavour to repair or replace the fountain should it be damaged again in a motor accident.

Dr Badroodien says the City will be responsible for the maintenance of the fountain.

“Routine maintenance could include touching up the paint from time to time and replacing the LED bulb when required,” he said.

The electricity connection for the fountain light to be switched on, will be done at a later stage.