The windpomp is one of the icons of the Karoo Heartland and as part of the landscape as Karoo koppies, sheep and Angora goats and a good ol’ farm gate. But have you ever wondered where the windpomp came from and how long they’ve been around?
The first windpumps were used to pump water since at least the 9th century in what is now Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. They later became widespread across the Muslim world and also spread to China and India. From the Middle Ages onward windmills were used extensively in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands and parts of Great Britain, to drain land for agricultural or building purposes.
Records show that windpompe were used in South Africa from 1869, although the earliest evidence of a windpump in the country comes from a painting drawn in 1848. These first South African windpompe were all wooden constructions with the first all steel windpump being patented in England in 1855. The first imported windpomp came to South Africa in 1874 and was a Standard Halliday that was erected on the farm of Mr P.J. du Toit in the Hopetown District.
The windpomp in the picture stands next to the road between Cradock and Middelburg in the Eastern Cape.