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The Secret Behind De Grendel And The Cableway

When you think of Cape Town, Table Mountain is always top of mind. It dominates the Mother City wherever you are, whether it is spilling cloud when the South Easter is howling, or reflecting that unique summer light on a quiet February evening. It remains almost unchanged from the days when the original Cape Town inhabitants wandered the shores below it gathering food. 

De Grendel Table Mountain

It was this incredible natural feature that inspired De Grendel's Sir David Graaff (1st Baronet), Sir Alfred Hennessy and Sir Ernest Oppenheimer to form The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC). 

 Sir David Graaff was incredibly influential; he was a Cape Town city Councillor from 1882, and served as the mayor in 1891-1892. During that time he was involved in the modernization of Cape Town, and played a role in building electricity infrastructure in the city to replace gas, which was made possible by improving the water power and building various water sources. As mayor his plans included a new reservoir, electric lights for the streets, a sea-well promenade, new streets to the seafront, a fish market, a new city hall and new paving for the streets. The harbour would be expanded, and the drainage system of the city would be changed to eliminate the bucket system. 

Cape Town

The plans to build the cableway were paused twice because costs had to be reserved for upkeep during the Anglo-Boer War and then the First World War. It was going to be insanely expensive to build it, so it had to be during a more fruitful time. Finally in 1926, after the TMACC was formed, a Norwegian engineer, Trygve Stromsoe, presented plans for a cableway and construction soon began. After two years of tireless and often dangerous work, the cableway was opened in 1929. People from all over the world came to summit. (Pictured below, the opening ceremony.) 

Table Mountain Opening

Still today, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is one of Cape Town's most popular tourist attractions with approximately 800,000 people a year using the cableway.


March 16, 2016