Anybody know the origin of the concrete tower next to the Liesbeek River?

An interesting question from resident David Haynes:

Does anybody know what the history is of the tall concrete pipe that stands near the Liesbeeck River near the corner of Liesbeeck Parkway and Durban Road?  Does it still serve any useful purpose? I find it an eyesore and would really like it if it could be demolished.  It is an ugly scar.  After so much money was spent beautifying the pathway next to the river, it seems silly to have left the tower there.

I have heard two stories: 1. That it’s an old surge tower to prevent flooding of the river; and 2. It’s an old grain silo from the days when our neighbourhood was all farmland.   If the latter is true, it’s probably a heritage piece we should all know more about! Can anybody help?



5 responses to “Anybody know the origin of the concrete tower next to the Liesbeek River?

  1. I’ve always imagined it was where the “police” of the day concealed themselves to fire on hapless smugglers using the Liesbeek to float their goods away on?!

  2. The Friends of the LIesbeek are sure to know. Email:

  3. Some comments from Rossebank residents:
    1. “I’ve sent the query about the Liesbeek structure to the Heritage Section at the City asking for information.
    I always assumed it was a grain silo but, apart from any historical connection it may have – I, personally, don’t think it’s an eye-sore at all and would be very sad to see it demolished. It’s a familiar and interesting part of our landscape that we’ve all grown up with – and hopefully so will our childrens’ children …”
    2.” Surely this person is joking about it being an eyesore? It’s a CLASSIC, If he/she wants to contribute to the continued beautification of the river area he/she can start a river litter cleanup campaign, rather than waste time and money demolishing something that is actually quite an interesting structure.”
    3.”Wrt the tower by the Liesbeek-Durban Road traffic lights: When I was very young (1950s), before the N2 and Liesbeeck Parkway, our route into town was along lower main road and we passed this feature. I remember other buildings around the tower and seem to remember an old farmhouse. I guess these other buildings were demolished around 1960, leaving only the tower. I have always thought it was a grain silo and historical and I therefore think it should NOT be demolished!”

  4. Thanks so much for these responses, Gill – it seems the grain silo story is the most likely. Apparently there is a plaque on the path nearby – I will try to get a photograph.

  5. One cannot say that the Rosebankers are not an enthusiastic bunch!
    This is from Doug van der Horst:
    Re. your recent Newsflash item about this, the silo is part of Mowbray and Rosebank’s heritage. It was used by a dairy farm called Jesmond Farm to store animal fodder . The owner of the farm was a Mr J.P.L.Louw and his phone number was 63006 (I know these details because they are on a bottle opener/milk top piercer that I bought at a junk shop decades ago). When we moved to Rosebank some of the older residents still referred to Jesmond Farm as Louw’s Farm. The other remaining Jesmond Farm buildings are now occupied by Peacock Glass in Durban Road, where you can still see the cobbled floors of the buildings where the cows were kept at night.

    This is what Chris du Plessis wrote in Issue 58 of the RNW newsletter (December 2005):

    Jesmond Farm (also known as Louw’s Farm) was situated in Mowbray. Owned by J. P. (Jimmy) Louw, the farm’s dairy used to be at 32 Durban Road, where Peacock’s Glass is at
    present. Cows used to graze on the open ground near the river and as far down as Valkenberg. The lonely concrete silo between Liesbeek Parkway and the river was used by the
    farm for storing cattle fodder. The original farmhouse, which was in the vicinity of this silo, was sold to accommodate the Parkway. Apparently the ground on which Rhodes High
    School stands was originally also part of Jesmond Farm. Doug van der Horst has in his possession one of the complimentary spikes/bottle openers issued by Jesmond Farm
    for removing the tight-fitting disposable cardboard stoppers from the necks of the glass milk bottles.

    When the creeper on the silo has grown more extensively, the structure won’t be as ugly as the resident in Mowbray seems to feel.


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