Hidden Treasures

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In 1901, a tender was accepted  for the construction of the Claremont Baths, situated at the end of Chester Road. Mixed bathing was unacceptable. Women pressed for separate facilities in 1903. For many years the baths were major venue in WA for contesting national, state and school swimming titles; a training pool for many champions. A centre for teaching swimming and life-saving.   The Baths were shark proofed in 1920s after a fatal shark attack near Scotch College boatshed. In 1936 main pool (boys’ baths) extended to Olympic size (55 yards x 33 yards). The girls’ baths were approximately 33 yards x 33 yards. (See 04.18 for aerial view and relative size).The baths were constructed on piles with boardwalks surrounding the pools. Living accommodation and changing cubicles were of weatherboard with iron roofs. The pools were separated from the river by open picket fencing. All woodwork immersed in water became heavily encrusted with sharp barnacles. A large (30ft) 2 tiered metal diving tower was located at the western end of the baths. This was later replaced with a smaller 10ft wooden tower that had one platform with springboard and another board at level with the boardwalk on the southern side of the baths. Changing cubicles bordered each of the pools on two sides.  Known as ‘bunks’, these were approximately 3 feet x 4 feet with a seat across the back, pegs for clothes and a short door. Drying and dressing was near impossible when 3 or 4 students were allocated to a bunk during school swimming lessons. The baths became inadequate for aquatic events.  Storm damage in 1971 led to demolition.  A new acquatic centre was built in Nov 1972.  Memorial erected on foreshore by Council on 150th anniversary of foundation of WA.  Headquarters of Claremont Amateur Swimming Club. The baths were a meeting place for young people on weekends, when most rode there leaving bikes in racks at bottom of Chester Road. For competition, turning boards were slipped in at each end of the boys’ pool and it was divided into lanes by hemp ropes with cork floats.