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The Former Kent Town Waterworks

Rundle Park / Kadlitpina (Park 13)

Did you know that three and a half acres in the north-eastern corner of this park were formerly used as the Kent Town Waterworks?

photo-icon A view of Thorndon Park Reservoir, featuring the tower, State Library of South Australia, B 1662, circa 1889
photo-icon John Rundle
photo-icon Waterworks Offices and Valve House, State Library of South Australia, B 6220, circa 1932
photo-icon Valve House, Rundle Park (current location)

Until the reservoir at Thorndon Park opened in the City’s north-east in 1860, Adelaide’s water was carted from the Torrens River, also known as Karrawirra Pari in the Kaurna language. The river was becoming increasingly polluted, with dysentery and other diseases becoming rife. This led to the establishment of the Waterworks and Drainage Commission in 1856.

From Thorndon Park, water was piped here to the Kent Town Waterworks. Built in 1857, the Valve House is the only remaining building from this extensive complex which was significant in the development of Adelaide. The Kent Town Waterworks operated until 1974 when the Engineering & Water Supply Department (E&WS, now known as SA Water) operations were transferred elsewhere and the land was given to the City of Adelaide.

In 1982 the Valve House was relocated 20 metres south west of its original position to allow for the expansion of the Botanic and Hackney Road intersection.

The plaque above the door of the Valve House read:

Kent Town Depot 1860 – 1980

There existed on this site for 120 years a depot from which manufacturing, maintenance and operations activities for the state water supply were carried out. This plaque was erected when the depot was closed down on the 19th Dec. 1980 to commemorate the service of all who worked here.

This park is named after two historical figures, Kadlitpina and John Rundle.

Kadlitpina was known to the colonists as Captain Jack – a well-known Kaurna elder at the time Adelaide was settled, while John Rundle (1791-1864) was one of the original directors of the South Australia Company formed in London in 1835 to promote settlement of the colony.

Kadlitpina was one of the main Kaurna people who worked with the colonists and taught them about Kaurna language, culture and history, especially in his role as a native constable. He was a close associate of Murlawirrapurka and Ityamai-itpina, other Kaurna elders who are recognised in the Park Lands with parks named after them.

City of Adelaide acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. We also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

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