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A history of Montagu's leiwater

Below is a brief history.

The information is taken from various oral sources and notes from Mike Worthington-Jones, Heinie Heydenrych, Piet Nel, Martin & Wilhelmien van Zyl, Don Woodford, Marion Maclean and Richard Knipe, as well as the following books:

  • Heydenrych, H. 2005. 30 Stories oor Montagu en sy mense. Montagu Museum, Montagu.
  • Japha, D. & Japha, V. 1992. The landscape and architecture of Montagu 1850-1915. School of Architecture and Planning, University of Cape Town, Cape Town.
  • Jordaan, I. undated. The history of Lovers Walk. Montagu Museum, Montagu.
  • Oosthuizen, A., Bullard, N. and Kriel, L. undated. Montagu 1952: Die Jan van Riebeeckfees. Montagu Museum, Montagu.

If you have any info to add/amend, please email the Secretary. The books listed above and a wealth of further information about the leiwater and history of Montagu and the area are available at the Montagu Museum and many historical images of Montagu are available on Digital Rail Images South Africa collection

History books Montagu



In 1851 D. S. van der Merwe sold his farm Uitvlucht for the purpose of creating a town (Montagu). The original leiwater canals were already in existence at this time and supplied irrigation water to the subdivisions (erven). The erven north of Bath Street are known as the droëerwe because they lie higher than the canals. The erven that receive water (between Bath Street and the Kingna, and some parts of Montagu West) are known as the watererwe.


The Anglo-Boer War & other stories

c. 1860-1902

The construction of the furrows in Lovers' Walk was done by POWs during the Anglo-Boer War.


Changes to sources


There was a furrow from Donkerkloof to the Keisie which was replaced with a pipe in 1950. The Kingna dried up in the winter months after Poortjieskloof Dam was constructed (completed 1955). The dam was too small, and the wastage too large, for earthen furrows, so the farmers built a concrete canal in the late 1950s with the help of a loan from Water Affairs. (The dam wall was raised in 1968.)


The 1981 Laingsburg Floods

25 January 1981

The main channel through Lovers' Walk was severely damaged during the flash flood of 1981 (the 'Laingsburg Floods' which claimed the lives of 13 Montaguers).


2008 Flood

November 2008

The flood of 2008 covered the channel in thousands of cubic metres of sand. After long drawn-out deliberations with the local authority (which came to naught) and great expense to the members of the Vereniging, we managed to get the water furrows cleared and repaired. We now have a flood fund for future flood-damage repairs.


The Great Roadworks Saga


Roadworks on the trunk road TR31 (Ashton through Cogmanskloof and Montagu) was scheduled to start in July 2015 and be completed by June 2018. The work was finally completed in Montagu in 2021.


2018 Drought & fire

January 2018

By January 2018, the whole of the Western Cape had been drought-stricken for four years. The veld was tinder dry and the inevitable fires swept through the Langeberg including Donkerkloof. How did this affect the leiwater? Read on and you may be surprised!

11 March 2019

The hail storm & flood

On the night of 11 March 2019, the western section of Montagu dorp was hit by a massive hail storm, with hailstones the size of golfballs!

The resultant flood caused large sections of Donkerkloof to wash away and mud- and rockslides down the steep sides of the kloof. The leiwater source pipe was broken up and washed away...

Read on...
24/25 September 2023

Floods after the drought

A glorious storm filled our dams and flooded the Keisie and Kingna Rivers. It also changed the course of the Keisie River and dumped tons of sand on our source canals.

The committee and their teams worked tirelessly to clear the sand and rocks from the canals and pipes, and it took a month to restore the system to working order.

Read on...
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