November 3, 2011

The 18th Century Drinking Water Pipeline

This video show how the current condition of the water in the Old Batavia and surrounding. And below of the video I give the the information that I got it from the Fatahillah Museum about the Drinking Water Pipeline in the 18th Century





The water place at the end of Molenvliet canal

In the 17th and 18th century drinking water for the city of Batavia was taken from the Molenvliet, which is the canal running along the present Jl. Gajah Mada. This canal received its water in turn from the Krukut River and from the Ciliwung River near Gambir through the canal along Jl. Veteran


The water was collected in tank of the end of the Molenvliet, in what is now Glodok. The name of Jl. Pancoran still refers to the water spouts from the tank. The townspeople, as well as crew from the many VOC ships, came here to fill their water buckets or barrels, either by walking or by travelling in small prahus through of the canals of the town. Later, with increasing population and the canals becoming more dirty and shallow, this was considered too inconvenient and in 1743 it was decided to install a piped water supply system.

Piped Water Supply
A separated sedimentation tank was installed at Glodok and from there a pipeline ran through the town to a fountain in the middle of the town hall square (Fatahillah Square) and continued via second fountain to the Castle. From there fountains pipes may have extended to other parts of the town but there is little information on these. The basin of the fountain is lower than the town square itself in order to facilitate tapping the water. Even with this system, however, many people (or their servants) found walking to the fountain too far and continued to use dirty canal water, with dire consequences for the health of the citizens. An 18th century plan shows the pipeline extending beyond the castle to the harbour canal but whether this plan was ever implemented is not known.

Decline of the system
Originally ceramic pipes were used but these proved vulnerable to leakage, and some parts were later replaced by wooden pipes. These, however, gave the water a poor odour and taste. Re-installing ceramic pipes was discussed but was never implemented. Gradually the system deteriorated. Many wealthier people also moved out of the old town to the countryside and to the new center near Weltevrede (Lapangan Banteng). so the pipe system was abandoned in the early 19th century and the fountain in the town hall square dismantled.

Restoration in the 1970s
Under the governorship of Ali Sadikin in the 1970s it was decided to return the town hall square as much as possible to its former 18th century glory. Archaeological investigations revealed the old brick foundations of the 18th century fountain and, on the basis of drawings by J. Rach, a replica was constructed at the same place. An intact ceramic element of the pipeline was also found and is now on display in the Ceramic Room of the museum.

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