21 December 1860 – The Date Water Was Turned on in Adelaide

The date 21 December 1860 was a Friday, and this was a big day for the city of Adelaide, as that is the day that the water from the pipeline in the Adelaide Hills was turned on, and water came through. The time was 3.00pm, and a small group of people surrounded the fire hydrant on the corner of Flinders and Pulteney Streets, and then it was time.

They turned in on … and …  the water didn’t just come, it GUSHED! In fact it gushed 7o feet into the air!! It sounds spectacular doesn’t it. And in fact the water coming to Adelaide, changed Adelaide’s history.

Google Maps

Google Maps

It was obviously mighty useful for the local fire service of the time. It meant the city could have drinking fountains, and water was also used to power the first non-passenger lift to be installed in Adelaide which allowed goods up and down several floors, which by the way was Harris Scarfes. And thanks to the vast reach and power of the water, it was used to clean multi-storey buildings in the city as well.

I got all of these interesting, useful tid-bits of history from the South Australian Engineers Heritage Conference that I attended last week. Being an Engineering history conference, of course the history of water supply and pipelines fall into the category!

Anyway back to Adelaide’s water … all didn’t go smoothly with the work on the pipeline and reservoir, but then again does anything? Here’s an article from the beginning of 1860 which mentions a few of the problems. This is just a portion of the article, so if you want to read the full entry just click on the hyperlink in the caption.

PUBLIC WORKS. (3 January 1860), South Australian Register, p. 3. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49896163

South Australian Register, 3 January 1860, p.3.

Work obviously continued throughout the year, and in December along with the excitement of Christmas … came the excitement of Adelaide’s water supply being turned on.

There’s a number of articles about the event. Though surprisinlgy none made front page news, or mention a big street parade.

Now I shall leave you with the small snippet article from the South Australian Advertiser the day after the big event …

The South Australian Advertiser, p.2http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article828181 title. (1860, December 22). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), p. 2. Retrieved May 17, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article828181

The South Australian Advertiser, 22 December 1860, p.2

And if you wish to read about Adelaide’s Waterworks  achievement further, here’s a few more articles thanks to the awesomeness of Trove.

27 December 1860 – South Australian Register, p.2
29 December 1860 – Adelaide Observer, p.5
29 December 1860 – South Australian Weekly Chronicle, p.3
31 December 1860 – South Australian Register, p.2

There’s no doubt that we take water on tap for granted. We shouldn’t, but having not lived without it, it just doesn’t enter our head to think of what life would be like without it. But one thing is for sure, 21 December 1860 certainly changed Adelaide’s history!

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