Water Tower – Vodárenská věž

Vodárenská věž

Vodárenská věž (Water Tower), Plzeň  1950s
Vodárenská věž in the 1950s
Photograph © Copyright George Krejci

Plzeň’s old Vodárenská věž (Water Tower) was constructed in 1532 to supply water to the city. It formed part of the Prague gate in the city’s old fortifications.

The top floor of the tower was added in around 1822 and the gothic portal in 1912. The portal was originally part of a house (197) on Prešovská ulice which was demolished and it dates from around 1500.

It can be found et Pražská ulice 19.

Vodárenská věž (Water Tower), Plzeň 1993
Vodárenská věž (Water Tower) 1993
Photograph © Copyright 1993 Clive Porter

 

Vodárenská věž (Water Tower), Plzeň 2004
Vodárenská věž (Water Tower) 2004
Copyright information unknown

 

Vodárenská věž (Water Tower), Plzeň 1800s
Vodárenská věž (Water Tower) end of the 19th century
From a postcard.

The above image shows detail from an undated postcard. It must be after 1822 and before 1912 because the extra floor is present but the gothic portal hasn’t been added.

For the above reasons, this image is interesting but it is even more so – not just because of the mention of a porcelain factory at number 21, but more importantly for the obvious bridge over the stream. This was a back water of the Mže which can be seen clearly on the 1912 map of Plzeň but which is missing in the 1930s version (see Street Names – Street Plans).

This may explain some of the effects of the 2002 floods in this part of the city. It would certainly explain the placement of a water tower here :)

Vodárenská věž (Water Tower), Plzeň 1761
Vodárenská věž (Water Tower) 1761
From a postcard. Artist: Josef Novák 1761

The above detail from a postcard is interesting as we can clearly see the (shorter) water tower forming part of the Prague Gate. The river is quite obvious in this view.

The Water that Fed the Water Tower

Water towers are constructed for a single purpose – to provide a source of on-tap water to the community. Most modern day water towers use rain as their supply, they then stock the rain water to be treated and used by households.

Pilsen’s water tower was obviously not fed (directly) by rain fall. As we’ve seen, the supply came from the river. The river in question was actually a backstream – a short-cut, if you like, which joined the Mže to the Radbuza. In 1912 it would appear that this was a major route – there was a weir taking water from our stream down into the Radbuza. I’d love to have seen it!

1912 map showing the water system
The 1912 map showing “our stream”
Provided by George Krejci

 

Šafařikovy sady 1910
This 1910 postcard of Å afaÅ™ikovy sady clearly shows “our stream”
From a postcard

Question: was the weir constructed in order to ensure a plentiful supply of water to our stream and, therefore, the water tower?

Answer: I don’t know but our stream may well have been a canal whose sole purpose in life was to provide water to the city. Had it been a canal, I feel sure that it was constructed over an existing water course – even if the said water course was little more than a trickle. I remain unconvinced however. I’m of the opinion that this was a natural water course which has been helped a little by the engineers.

So where did this stream (or canal) go and why?

Pražská 23, 2006
Pražská ulice 23 in 2006
Photograph © Copyright 2006 Eva Haunerová

This is a great photo for our purposes – here we can see no water (there’s a little snow though) and we can see the bridge. The building, 23 Pražská, is the same building seen in the 1900s postcard (formerly a red brick construction).

The area we see covered in snow would, however, seem to be rather high – doesn’t the bridge seem to missing part of its arch? I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t some kind of underground stream covered and hidden by the City’s engineers somewhere between 1912 and 1930.

I wish I had access to records – this is bugging me…

In 2002 Plzeň was a victim of floods. There are many photographs of Plzeň during the 2002 floods available on the internet and one of these is very pertinent – I don’t remember where I found it and I haven’t found it again since. I’d very much like to credit its owner, so if anybody finds a url for this photo – please contact me.

Floods at Pražská 23, 2002
Floods at Pražská ulice 23 in 2002
Copyright information unknown

I love this photo, not just because it shows Our Stream having returned from the dead, but because the guy seems to be genuinely preoccupied with this particular scene – I wonder what was going through his mind? Wouldn’t it be nice to know?

I wonder if the floods refilled the water tower’s chambers? Did its old wooden water wheel turn again?

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