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Jade Davenport

Jade Davenport

DAVENPORT, MA (UCT), is a freelance journalist and historian – jade@engineeringnews.co.za

Cradle of South African aviation 

By: Jade Davenport     10th March 2017 The birth of South Africa's aviation industry cannot be pinpointed to one location or date or to a single individual. While East London may boast the status of hosting the first flight in South Africa, the first aerodrome, along with the first flying school, was, in fact, established in... 

The first powered flight in South Africa

By: Jade Davenport     17th February 2017 The field of aviation achieved a new milestone last week with the safe passage of the world's longest commercial flight. That Qatar Airways plane travelled a distance of 14 535 km between the Qatari capital of Doha,  and Auckland, New Zealand, in one continuous stretch – a journey that covered... 

Koeberg contract and SA’s covert nuclear arms programme

By: Jade Davenport     3rd February 2017 One of the most fascinating aspects of the construction of South Africa’s first nuclear energy project, the 1 800 MW Koeberg power station, in the Western Cape – and an aspect that will always differentiate it from any future nuclear build programme in the country – was that it was undertaken at... 

The nuclear contract that rocked the Dutch

By: Jade Davenport     27th January 2017 In the closing weeks of 2016 State-owned power utility Eskom announced that it would be moving ahead with the decision to invite bids to build six nuclear reactors, which are projected to add 9 600 MW of capacity to the national grid in the coming decades. While Eskom’s insistence on pursuing a... 

A brief history of SA’s nuclear energy sector

By: Jade Davenport     9th December 2016 State-owned power utility Eskom’s recent announcement that it intends to move ahead with a controversial initiative to request proposals for new nuclear generation capacity has sparked an intensive national debate on not only the need and viability of such a project but also its ethics. Politics... 

Cape Town harbour’s Alfred Basin

By: Jade Davenport     25th November 2016 Given that Cape Town was the most important port on the sea route between Europe and the East, for the first half century that the British administered this strategic maritime jewel, it is surprising that little effort was made to develop any infrastructure that could transform Table Bay into a... 

South Africa's first official civil engineer

By: Jade Davenport     18th November 2016 Following Britain’s annexation of the Cape at the turn of the nineteenth century, a number of measures were implemented, including the introduction of a new currency and the removal of all restraints on the trading of goods, which had the effect of stimulating trade and the economic life of the... 

The battle to tame Table Bay – Part 2

By: Jade Davenport     28th October 2016 Being strategically located halfway between Europe and the lucrative spice route of the East, the Cape of Good Hope was certainly a jewel in the crown of any maritime trading empire. This was especially the case in the era prior to the opening IN 1869 of the Suez Canal, an engineering marvel that... 

Pioneering efforts to tame Table Bay

By: Jade Davenport     14th October 2016 The Port of Cape Town may not be the largest, busiest or even oldest anchorage in Africa, but it certainly is the most historically famous and strategic of them all. Yet the irony is that Table Bay, the marine basin in which the harbour is located, was, in its natural state, actually a poor... 

The life and times of Anton Rupert

By: Jade Davenport     30th September 2016 October 4 marks the centenary of the birth of Anton Edward Rupert, one of South Africa’s most successful business magnates, whose entrepreneurial interest and influence not only extended across almost every sector of our economy and abroad in the latter half of the last century but is also still... 

Major milestone for Castle of Good Hope

By: Jade Davenport     16th September 2016 South Africa’s built environment, at least that dating from the colonial era, is celebrating a noteworthy milestone this year as it marks the 350th anniversary of the start of construction of the iconic Castle of Good Hope, considered South Africa’s oldest surviving building. It has already been... 

The foundations of South Africa’s forestry industry

By: Jade Davenport     2nd September 2016 The vital contribution trees make towards sustaining our habitable environment is a fact acknowledged the world over, with many countries having a dedicated 'arbor day’ On their national calendars. South Africa is one of the most enthusiastic proponents of this fact, dedicating not just a day,... 

The original fort of the Cape of Good Hope

By: Jade Davenport     12th August 2016 If one considers the fact that there are still intact man-made structures dating from 3700 BCE elsewhere in the world, the legacy of South Africa’s built environment is, by comparison, in its infantile stage. In fact, the country’s oldest surviving built structure, the Castle of Good Hope, in... 

Louis Thibault, SA’s first professional architect

By: Jade Davenport     5th August 2016 In the early years of colonial settlement in South Africa, there was very little need for professional skills in the built environment. Such was the small and relatively primitive nature of the few urban centres that had sprung up around the Cape that all civil and building works were fashioned... 

South Africa’s first locomotives

By: Jade Davenport     22nd July 2016 The South Africa of the late 1850s was an economic and industrial backwater with limited growth prospects, especially when compared with other colonial outposts. Diamonds and gold, which were to drive the country’s industrial revolution, were still a long way from being discovered and, thus, the... 

SA’s first public rail infrastructure

By: Jade Davenport     8th July 2016 It has been established that South Africa’s first rail-esque infrastructure was a 1.6N km oxen-operated wooden line, which was laid along Durban’s Bluff in 1856 to facilitate the conveyance of quarried sandstone for the construction of the harbour’s North Pier. However, the country did not have... 

South Africa’s first, albeit primitive, rail infrastructure

By: Jade Davenport     24th June 2016 John Milne, the man regarded as Durban’s first civil engineer, is most famous for his role as Port Natal’s (today the Port of Durban's) first harbour engineer and his pioneering efforts to overcome the infamous submarine sandbar that naturally blocks the entrance to the lagoon, which, for the... 

The battle of the sandbar at Durban harbour

By: Jade Davenport     10th June 2016 Durban’s first Harbour Engineer and the Battle of the Sandbar The greatest obstacle that has always challenged the successful use of the natural lagoon that is today Durban’s harbour is the containment of a massive sandbar, which, left unchecked, has the natural inclination to block the entrance... 

SA’s first lighthouse still in working order – 192 years on

By: Jade Davenport     27th May 2016 It is said that there are more than 3 000 shipwrecks off the coast of South Africa. This should hardly be surprising, given that our coastline, particularly the section around the Cape, which was originally christened Cabos das Tormentas (Cape of Storms) by Bartolomeu Dias, the first Portuguese... 

Pioneering road construction at the foot of Africa

By: Jade Davenport     13th May 2016 Driving along the highly developed network of highways, roads and mountain passes that connect the urban and rural settlements of South Africa, it is quite easy, in this modern day, to take for granted the relative ease with which one is able to get from point A to B. Yet, less than two centuries... 

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