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The Melbourne City Baths

Melbourne City Baths

Address: 420 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Phone: 03 9658 9011

Email: mcb@melbourne.vic.gov.au

Facebook: www.facebook.com/melbournecitybaths

Opening Hours

Management reserves the right to alter operating hours as required.Mon – Thurs6am to 10pmFri6am to 8pm Sat – Sun8am to 6pm

Public holidays

Management reserves the right to alter operating hours as required.Public holidays10am to 6pm

 

Web: http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/melbournecitybaths/Pages/MCB.aspx


In the early years of Melbourne’s settlement, Yarra River was the natural site for bathing for the settlers. By the 1850’s Melbourne’s Yarra River had become quite polluted, and water borne diseases hit the city causing many deaths. Bathrooms in houses were rare, and only the wealthy could afford. Melbourne City bath opened its doors on 9th January 1860 to provide health and fitness services to Melbournians. In the first year around79096 males and 2950 females used the facilities at the Melbourne City Bath.

Melbourne City Council leased the baths to a private operator. But by 1886, lack of maintenance resulted in deterioration of the building and its facilities. The building inspector reported ‘ an unwholesome scum’ on the surface of the water in the pool. The bath was closed on 1899.

In 1901 the Corporation of the City of Melbourne advertised a national competition for the design of the new public baths. JJ Clark, the architect who designed Melbourne’s Treasury building and The Royal Mint, won the competition. The Baths were built by Swanson Brothers builders.


The Register, 6th May 1902 published the news about the competition

” At the meeting of the City Council Acting Chairman of the special committee appointed to examine the competitive designs for the proposed new city baths in the Swanston Street, said of all the designs submitted nine in number were of exceptional merit, and the committee had unanimously agreed in making a choice. The envelopes containing names 61 of the competitors were then opened in the presence of the council, when it was found that the first prize of £100 had been secured by Mr. S. J. Clark, of Queen Street. , Brisbane, and the second prize of £30 by Mr. Albert S. Conrad, of Adelaide.”


With distinctive use of red bricks the building is in Edwardian Baroque style . In 1903 the Old baths were demolished and a new building came up with improved facilities with segregated male and female slipper baths.


The Australiasian Report of re-opening of Melbourne City Baths. On 26th March 1904

“CITY OF MELBOURNE BATHS.

The opening of the new City baths, situated at the corner of Swanston and Victoria streets, Melbourne, took place  at noon. The ceremony was brief. Alderman l’ratt, representing the health committee of the City Council, handed the key to the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, who responded suitably. The baths cost 18000 pounds and is amongst the best public, ones in the world. The men’s bath measures 100 x 32 feet. In the evening a large number of people accepted the invitation of the Lord Mayor and Lady M’Laeharn to witness an aquatic entertainment given by the Victorian Amateur Swimming Association. The entertainment was intended as an inauguration of the baths, which were thrown open for inspection by the guests for half an hour before the programme was started. There were present most of the representative men of the city, and among them the state Premier (Mr. Pentl. The new City baths contain, in addition to the men’s bath, women’s swimming bath 50ft. x 20ft., eight men’s first-class slipper baths, three spray baths, eight second-class slipper baths, three spray baths eight women’s first-class slipper baths, three spray baths, eight second-class slipper baths, three spray baths; Turkish and vapour baths, Jewish Mickvah bath, and laundry establishment. The swimming baths are supplied with hot water during winter months. “


 Melbourne City Baths

The new Building was officially opened by The Lord Mayor Sir Malcolm D McEacharn on23rd March 1904. The building included a swimming pool, public wash house, family bathroom, and segregation of male and female facilities. Class distinction also was apparent with second class baths in the basement and first class baths on the main floor. There were also Turkish and vapour baths, a Jewish ceremonial bath and a laundry.

Introduction of mixed baths in 1947 and Olympic Games in 1956 increased the popularity of Melbourne City Baths. After the Olympic Games the patronage has risen to around 300000 people.

By the 1970’s patronage had declined and Melbourne City Council decided to demolish the Building. But the Builders’ Labourers’ Federation prevented the demolition by designating the area as Workers pool.

The baths have undergone a major renovation in 1983. After a $4Million renovation the baths were officially opened on 14th August 1983. The building is listed in Victorian Heritage Register.

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