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SWAKOPMUND NAMIBIA HISTORY THE JETTY.It was decided that a wooden landing jetty should be constructed for the purpose of off-loading the boats and rafts. On 25 Oct 1904 a team of sixty soldier..

 

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Swakopmund Jetty - a history

Originally a wooden structure now concrete and steel and a popular walk along..

   

 

This page follows-on from the history of the Swakopmund Mole. The difficulties that had been experienced with the rapid silting up of the harbour area at the Mole caused an urgent rethink of the way in which the cargoes could be offloaded from the ships which anchored-off one kilometre from the shore-line.

 

It was decided that a wooden landing jetty should be constructed for the purpose of off-loading the boats and rafts. On 25 Oct 1904 a team of sixty soldier engineers of the 2nd Eisenbahnbaukompagnie landed at Swakopmund with the materials and began with the construction of the jetty. The operation of securing the foundations and lower braces of the pillars saw work teams being regularly swamped by the high Atlantic surf. Working conditions were dangerous, difficult and debilitating, but the tough engineers were racing against time as the Mole harbour was rapidly silting up. They met their deadline and the Jetty was commissioned 25 April 1905. It was 275m long and 9m wide. By 1907 the volume of goods being handled by the jetty warranted the expenditure of not only extending the jetty by 50m but also widening it a further 5m in order that the bulkier cargo could be handled efficiently. During the early days of the colony shipping goods to Swakopmund presented a major costing problem for there were no return loads for the ships. It was as late as 1907 before the Otavi Copper Mine came into production and the export of ore began, and by 1911 the first blocks of Karibib dimension stone marble were shipped through the port of Swakopmund.

 

Schutztruppe engineers building the wooden jetty 1904

2nd Eisenbahnbaukompagnie

Barge carrying horses to shore

 Barge carrying horses ashore

Steam powered cranes

Unloading goods

Terado navalis shipworm damage to the wooden structure of the first jetty

Shipworm damage

 

But the jetty soon encountered its own problems as the foundations were affected by spring tides. Also the marine  ship-worm (Teredo navalis) bored into the submerged wooden beams, which had to be replaced at regular intervals, so it was decided that a steel built jetty should replace the wooden one. The construction of the (steel) iron jetty, which commenced in 1912, was contracted as a joint venture to the companies Flander A.G., Benroth and Grun & Bilfinger. The jetty was originally planned to be 640m long, and stood on the south side of the wooden jetty. However only 262 m of the steel jetty had been completed at the outbreak of the Great War.  Drilling and securing into the bedrock overcame foundation problems. Two of the original ‘stamper’ drills bits of 63cm and 93 cm across the chisel ends can be seen mounted on a pedestal at the entry point to the jetty.

 

The later steel jetty being erected alongside the old wooden jetty

Steel alongside the wooden

The massive construction cranes of the steel jetty

Massive construction cranes on the jetty

1934 saw high rainfalls inland. The jetty was silted-up

Following the 1934 floods inland

 

The unusually heavy rains of 1934 resulted in so much sand being washed down the Swakop River that the shoreline was moved out past the end of the jetty. It took several years for the shoreline to return to its' normal position.

 

The Swakopmund Jetty soon became a favourite with anglers and at times would literally bristle with fishing rods. It was a popular walking place and from the end of the jetty you could look back at to the coastline and see a panoramic view of Swakopmund. However,by 1983 and never having had any major repairs done to it the jetty was considered unsafe. A ‘Save The Jetty’ fund managed to raise R300, 000. However this was insufficient to complete the much needed repairs. Concrete pillars were placed around some of the more corroded steel legs, but sadly the jetty was still considered unsafe for pedestrian use.

 

The Municipality of Swakopmund recognized the value of the Jetty to the town. Funds were eventually made available and following extensive repairs about half of the jetty length was in October 2006 opened to the delight of locals and tourists. The north side of the jetty walk is reserved for anglers.

 

Drill bits

Drill bits used for positioning

 the jetty foundations

Swakopmund Jetty today. Open to the public and for fishing from

Jetty Reopened in October 2006

 

Acknowledgements and further reading: A1, H5, H8, H11, M3, P2

 

Orange Bullet Swakopmund Kaserne


Of Interest: The soldiers of the 2nd Eisenbahnbaukompagnie also built the Kaserne in Bismarck St. The names of their 8 comrades who perished while serving in Namibia can be seen on a plaque in the entrance-hall.

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