Vaal Triangle History


1889 - 1902


Klip Power Station

William Stow


Vaal Dam

Vereeniging Estates

1939 - 1945

Peace Negotiations




The first city in South Africa to have electric lights - generated by steam engines - was Kimberley in 1882.  The discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886 led to Johannesburg installing electricity in 1891.  A number of schemes were put forward to generate power for the gold mines.  The Victoria Falls Power Company Limited (VFP) established in 1906 (renamed the Victoria Falls and Transvaal Power Company Limited in 1909) bought out the Rand Central Electric Works and the General Electric Power Co Ltd in 1906.  It originally intended harnessing the power of the Victoria Falls to generate the electricity requirements for all the Witwatersrand, but this scheme was abandoned in favour of exploiting the coal reserves in the Transvaal.

The Transvaal Colonial Government viewed the provision of electricity as a public service and introduced the Power Act on 28 May 1910, which limited the future existence of the VFP.  The Act authorised the operational expansion of the VFP, but provided for the State’s expropriation of the company, or any other electricity undertaking, after a period of 35 years.


With the persuasion of Sammy Marks (who pointed out the advantages of siting a power station next to the coal fields), the Victoria Falls and Transvaal Power Company Limited decided to erect a power station on the banks of the Vaal River at Vereeniging.  The power station was completed in 1912 and was equipped with two 9.6 MW sets, with a further two 12 MW sets being added in 1913.  The electricity generated was transmitted 36 miles on a high voltage line to the Witwatersrand at a voltage of 80 kV.  Coal was supplied from the nearby Cornelia Colliery at Viljoensdrift.

By 1915, there were four thermal power stations - Brakpan, Simmerpan, Rosherville and Vereeniging - feeding into the VFP power grid with a total installed capacity of more than 160 megawatts.

Electricity for 107 houses in the ‘more affluent suburb of Market Street’ was only connected to the VFP power supply main in 1921.  Between 1923 and 1933, the Vereeniging Power Station was extended four times giving it a generating capacity of 140 MW and making it one of the largest stations in the British Empire at that time.  The power station was hailed as a major success for the growing industries around Vereeniging, the only problem occurring during a stormy night in December 1925, when one of the plant’s 10 MW generators suffered a mechanical failure.  The generator was ripped apart, and the core of the machine tore through the roof and landed 2 miles away on the Free State side of the Vaal River.


The increase in the price of gold in 1933 led to the expansion of the mines and a rapid growth in the demand for electricity which stretched the VFP to the limits of its capacity.  In 1934, the Vereeniging Estates induced the VFP to build a second power station in Vereeniging by allowing its land on the Klip River to become the site for the Klip Power Station.


The site was adjacent to a new colliery shaft of the old Springfield Colliery (owned by Amalgamated Collieries, a subsidiary of Vereeniging Estates) from which coal could be mechanically fed directly into the bunkers. 


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