One of the more prominent sights in Semaphore is the 30 metre high, 1880, Water Tower situated a couple of hundred metres back from the foreshore – on the highest point in the area.
In early post settlement days Semaphore, and the remainder of the Lefevre Peninsula, got its water from nearby Port Adelaide. As I have indicated in one of my Port Adelaide reviews, in 1875 the Jervois Bridge across the Port River was built. While this provided a much needed road and rail link between the Port and Semaphore it also created a serious problem for Semaphore. The Jervois Bridge was a turntable style swing bridge, which in addition to carrying traffic also carried the water and gas pipelines to Semaphore. Every time the bridge was swung open the water and gas pipes had to be disconnected thus denying the good citizens of Semaphore a supply of water.
In 1880, to alleviate this inconvenience, the Water Tower was constructed. This tower was built to last with the walls being some two metres thick at the base. Water was stored in a tank (split into two compartments to facilitate cleaning) at the top of the tower and gravity did the rest.
The water still came in by pipe from Port Adelaide and entered into the basement of the tower from which it was pumped up into the tank on top. The tank with a total capacity of 60,000 gallons had gauges which operated in a similar manner to a modern toilet cistern (though triggered at 10 minute intervals only) such that when the water level fell to a certain point the gauge “sent a message” and the pump sprung into action to replenish the water (assuming the supply had not been temporarily disconnected in Port Adelaide!). When constructed the tower stored sufficient water for five hours town usage – sufficient to overcome the cuts caused when the Jervois Bridge was opened.
The levels between the basement and tank provided basic living accommodation for workers and indeed water company employees used the site as a holiday camp during the 1920s Depression. Two comfortable apartments were added in 1936, and the tower itself became a private residence in 1972 – imagine the views from the balcony at the top. I have been unable to establish when the tower ceased to be used for water storage.
My final picture is of a rather interesting sculpture at the base of the tower. It appears to be an unused fountain. Whatever it is, I like it.
The Water Tower overlooks the two-storeyed house where famed World War I aviator Sir Ross Smith was born in 1892 and was sold in late 2017. It will be interesting to see what the new owners do with it.
Address: 40 Blackler Street