Orlando Power Station

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Orlando Power Station
Soweto Cooling Towers.JPG
Orlando Power Station and Cooling Towers
Location of Orlando Power Station in South Africa
CountrySouth Africa
Coordinates26°15′14″S 27°55′30″E / 26.25389°S 27.92500°E / -26.25389; 27.92500Coordinates: 26°15′14″S 27°55′30″E / 26.25389°S 27.92500°E / -26.25389; 27.92500
Commission date1942 [1]
Decommission date1998[1]
Owner(s)City of Johannesburg
Thermal power station
Primary fuelCoal[2]
Power generation
Nameplate capacity300 Megawatt[2]
External links
CommonsRelated media on Commons

Orlando Power Station is a decommissioned coal-fired power station in Soweto, South Africa. The power station was commissioned at the end of the Second World War and served Johannesburg for over 50 years.


Planning for the construction of Orlando started in 1935, as the electricity demand of Johannesburg was rising faster than what could be met with the existing City Generating Station located in downtown Johannesburg. The location for the station was selected due to its proximity to water supply for coolant and railway lines for the delivery of coal.[1] Construction started in 1939 with Merz & McLellan as consulting engineers, but completion was delayed due to the outbreak of the Second World War. The last phase of construction was completed in 1955. Until 1990 two Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST steam engines (Nos. 7805 Elizabeth and 7398 George) were used to move incoming coal trains through a wagon tipper at the power plant.[3]

The station was decommissioned in 1998 after 56 years of service.[1]

In 2006 work was started to transform the site of the power station into an entertainment and business centre.[4]

On 25 June 2014, the decommissioned power plant collapsed killing 1 and trapping 5 others in the rubble.[5]

Climber rap jumping down the cooling towers.

Cooling towers[edit]

Decommissioned cooling towers with vivid decoration in 2014

The two cooling towers are a prominent landmark in Soweto. They were built in 1951 to supplement the spray pond cooling system as this source of cooling was running at its capacity.[1]

Being supplied by sewage effluent from the Klipspruit Sewage Works, the spray ponds at Orlando were the first in South Africa to make use of this ready supply of coolant liquid.[6]

Both towers are painted, one functioning as an advertising billboard and the other containing the largest mural painting in South Africa.[7] The towers are also used for bungee and BASE jumping from a platform between the top of the two towers as well as a bungee swing into one of the towers.[8][9]

In film and TV[edit]

The tower was since used for a Fast Forward on the seventh season of The Amazing Race. Their task was for teams (Ray & Deana in particular) to walk across a suspension bridge 9 metres (30 ft) above the ground between the power station's towers. In the movie Chappie the power station is the headquarter of the protagonists, the two iconic cooling towers and the main building are decorated with typical Die Antwoord artwork.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Krige, Sue. "Orlando Power Station - a legacy of POWER". Orlando Towers. Archived from the original on 20 February 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  2. ^ a b "The Johannesburg Electricity Department operates one of the largest municipally owned undertakings in the world" (PDF). Johannesburg City Council. 1956. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  3. ^ Conradie, Pieter (2009-05-11). "Johannesburg City Power, Reuven Head Office, 0-6-0ST "Elizabeth" RSHN 7805/1954". Retrieved 7 January 2010.
  4. ^ Dlamini, Ndaba (2006-02-23). "Orlando Ekhaya development a new dawn for Soweto". City of Johannesburg. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  5. ^ http://citizen.co.za/201279/abandoned-power-station-comes-crashing-down/
  6. ^ Grant, George; Flinn, Taffy (1992). Watershed Town. The History of the Johannesburg City Engineer's Department. Johannesburg City Council. Retrieved 2010-01-07.
  7. ^ Sindane, Lucky (2005-04-15). "Soweto calls for investors". City of Johannesburg. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  8. ^ "about us". Orlando Towers (Pty) Ltd. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  9. ^ "the ABYSS". Orlando Towers (Pty) Ltd. 2010-01-07. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
  10. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1823672/locations

External links[edit]

External images
Set of photographs by Pavel Tcholakov showing the decay of the structure since its decommissioning
Ex-Orlando Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST locomotive George
Ex-Orlando Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST locomotive Elizabeth
Bungee jumping from the towers