Vaal Triangle History

1889 - 1902


Klip Power Station

William Stow




1939 - 1945

Peace Negotiations



Vereeniging History

  In 1910, the four Crown colonies: the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, the Orange Free State and the Transvaal were merged into one state to form the Union of South Africa with one supreme parliament.
  Before Union, the South African Mounted Rifles, a body composed mostly of British war veterans, maintained law and order in the four colonies as the official police force. After Union, the Mounted Rifles was renamed the South African Police, and in Vereeniging, a number of rondawels were built for the force at the corner of Main Street and Stanley Avenue. Until very recently, these buildings were occupied by the local constabulary.
  For Vereeniging, the Union was to have particular local significance because until then the Vaal River was a boundary between two independent colonies: the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, and agreement would have been difficult to reach between the states on the implementation of the great water schemes which later were to follow.
  However, the most important event to influence the future of Vereeniging - then a village of 500 white residents - occurred in 1910, when the Transvaal administration invited tenders for the purchase of about 15,000 tons of scrap iron then lying at the Pretoria railway workshops and elsewhere ... for £1 a ton. A condition of the sale was that the successful tenderer would be required to erect a plant for converting scrap into steel. The contract was awarded on June 26, 1911 to Henry Horace Wright, an English mining engineer who, with contract in hand, plodded from one Rand mining house to another trying to raise a loan to build the plant. Finally, he met Sammy Marks.
  Marks saw in Wright's contract an opportunity to realise his long cherished dream to establish a steel industry on the African sub continent, and their association led to the forming of the Union Steel Corporation (of South Africa) Limited on November, 15, 1911.
  Marks chose a Vaal-bank site for the company's steelworks to be near his collieries which would supply the coal for thesteelworks' furnaces and on September 1, 1913 the first steel ingot was cast at the new works and rolled into a single bar about one inch in diameter. The bar was cut into pieces,
equal in thickness to a 50 cent piece, and distributed as "the first steel tapped in South Africa" to the prominent guests who attended the first historical pour. The Union Steel Corporation, in later years, was to draw to Vereeniging companies which would develop the town into a major centre for the nation's steel and engineering industries.
  In 1912, the Victoria Falls and Transvaal Power Company erected a power station on the Vaal bank close to the steelworks to which Cornelia Colliery at Viljoensdrift railed daily an average of 1,400 tons of coal. The power generated at the station was transmitted on high-voltage lines to the Witwatersrand, 36 miles away, at a voltage of 80kV and fed into the V.F.P. power grid which at that time con­sisted of the output of the three other power stations then erected in the Transvaal, the first of which was built in Brakpan. The power lines from the Ver­eeniging station, still to be seen at the side of the Vereeniging - Johannesburg road, were the first of that high voltage to be erected in the British Empire.  The Vereeniging station's power output was derived from four 12,000 kW generating sets, but since then, the station's installed capacity has been increased to 160,000 kW; a small generating capacity by modern standards.
  In 1911 a new local government ordinance was introduced in the Transvaal in terms of which village councils were
Chapter 9: Steel is made in the Village
Page 37
VFP power station
The VFP power station on the north bank of the Vaal river which in flood nearly reached the railway bridge in 1917.