By Anne Taylor
8 November 2013
The first commercially successful swimming pool vacuum cleaner was invented by Ferdinand Chauvier, a hydraulics engineer who came to South Africa from the Belgian Congo in 1951.
Professor Mike Bruton in his fascinating book, Great South African Inventions, says that Chauvier quickly realised that there was a huge market for taking the tedium out of cleaning swimming pools, and went about inventing a machine that would do the job automatically, efficiently powered by the ordinary operation of the pool’s filter.
But it wasn’t until 1974 that the first Kreepy Krauly was born in Chauvier’s Springs home. It was an immediate success and soon became well established in the world market. The licence to produce and sell the Kreepy was sold to an American company – and can still be found in millions of pools across the globe.
Kreepy Krauly has recently launched a “proudly South African” advert on its YouTube channel. Starring Jason Goliath as a Kreepy Krauly Wrangler, it’s a funny “mockumentary” that will evoke South Africans’ childhood memories of Kreepy hunting, the company says.
The Kreepy was, in fact, not the first South African pool cleaning invention. Bruton says it was preceded by the Pool Bug Automatic Pool Cleaner, which was designed in the late 1960s by prolific Joburg inventor John Raubenheimer.
The Pool Bug went to market in 1972, preceding the Kreepy Krauly by two years. “Although it was initially unreliable, it was an international breakthrough, provided inspiration for other inventions and created a worldwide industry,” Bruton writes in an article for the Cape Argus.
- Read more on SouthAfrica.info: South African inventions
- Mike Bruton’s Great South African Inventions is published by Cambridge University Press as part of their Indigenous Knowledge Library series