Old Table Mountain Cable Car

Photo Caption: Would you have ridden this cable car to the top of Table Mountain in 1989?
Awesome image of the old cable car by @tablemountainca photo by Conari/Rica
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Table Mountain, the most iconic landmark of South Africa, offers the best views of Cape Town. This flat-topped mountain is one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Did you know that getting to the top of Table Mountain was not always the effortless trip as it is today? Before the cableway, the only way to reach the top of Table Mountain was by foot.

It was in the 1870’s when the idea of finding a fast and easy way to the top of the mountain was first suggested. The initial plan was to build a rack railway. But the first Anglo-Boer War, which broke out in 1880, disrupted the plan.  In 1912 HM Peter proposed a cable railway running from Oranjezicht through Platteklip Gorge. However the first World War halted the plan.

Dreaming Big, Starting Small

Plans lay dormant until 1926. Trygve Stromsoe, a Norwegian engineer, approached the Cape Town City Council suggesting a cableway to transport people up and down the mountain. The Table Mountain cable car history was initially made on a small scale. To finance the construction of the cableway, Hennessy and fellow investors, Sir David Graaff and Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, formed the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC). The project was contracted to Germany’s Adolf Bleichert. The design of the upper and lower stations as well as a tearoom at the summit was offered to a firm of local architects, Walgate & Ellsworth.

Soon enough, construction began. The construction of the cableway took place on the rugged cliffs of the mountain. The fact that there was no existing cableway, cranes nor helicopters to haul the heavy machinery up the mountain made the project a challenging one.

They constructed a simple track for a “soapbox” to transport to the top the equipment, building materials, and the workers. It took two years of tireless and often dangerous work and an amount of £60 000 to build the cableway. There were no deaths or serious injuries to the workers during the construction.

Impressing the World

The building of the cableway was considered a major engineering achievement. It was built with steel and wood. Till this day it offers a safe and easy way to ascend the mountain in under 10 minutes. The cable car could carry 19 passengers and a conductor. The Cableway’s official opening ceremony was on October 4, 1929. Reverend AJS Lewis, the Cape Town Mayor, facilitated the event. And more than 200 guests attended the ceremony.

With the easy access to the famous flat-topped summit, Table Mountain became one of Cape Town’s first major tourist attractions. The cableway transported some of Cape Town’s most celebrated visitors, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

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Do you love hiking and exploring Table Mountain? Did you know there is a locals annual Cable Car pass? Well if you have but have been procrastinating, the price for the pass is going up on the 1st of October! Currently it costs R646 but it is going up to R750 on the 1st. What is even better is that you can buy it online. To learn more visit our website for the online link. Follow @secretcapetown for more and tag us or use #secretcapetown to be featured. Photo by @matthew_verwey . . . . . #capetown #cityofcapetown #amazingcapetown #seecapetown #visitcapetown #thisiscapetown #ig_capetown #southafrica #southafricaza #visitsouthafrica #africa #ig_southafrica #thisisafrica #capetownmag #instagramcapetown #weheartsa #capetowntourism #westerncape #capetownsouthafrica #meetcapetown #capetownetc #thisisafrica #southafrica #capetowntravel #explorecapetown #tablemountain #tablemountaincableway #tablemountainnationalpark

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The old cableway, however, became primitive by today’s standards. Periodic upgrades occurred in 1958 and 1974. The current Rotair cable cars have been operating since 1997. They can carry 65 people offering 360° views of Cape Town.

Millions and Millions of Visitors

On the International Cable Car Day 2019 (17 January) the cableway celebrated a big milestone, welcoming its 28 millionth visitor to the mountain. It was Mildrid Garett’s first time up the mountain. She decided to make use of the free birthday ride promotion. Little did she know how famous she would become when requesting her ticket!

Every year approximately 909 000 people visit the mountain. Each year this number grows more rapidly as tourism in the city picks up. The last million was reached in a record breaking amount of time.