Friday, April 17, 2009

Valley Baths

Imagine the names of swimmers who must have passed through the doors of the Valley Pool. Once Queensland's main competition pool, the Valley Pool, or "Valley Baths" as it used to be called, is still a vital part of swimming for fun and for competition in Brisbane. Because of the climate, swimming has always been popular here. Residents used to swim in the Brisbane River before the first public swimming pool was built at Spring Hill in 1886. The Fortitude Valley Municipal Swimming Bath was designed by city architect AH Foster and built in 1925, and became a popular venue immediately. The photo below was taken some time between 1930 and 1940, and shows a "multiple dive" from the various diving-boards at the pool. And you thought that synchronised diving was only a new sport!

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #39245)

Through the years since it was built, the Valley Pool has seen school swimming carnivals and amateur swim club meets, as well as Commonwealth and Olympic trials, child swimming classes and water polo matches. That all sounds pretty municipal to me. Although the interior of the pool has been modernised, the historical facade has been retained, and is readily visible to the thousands daily who travel down Wickham St towards Breakfast Creek. This is how it looks.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

These days, it seems as though any person with a camera anywhere near children or teenagers, particularly if they are wearing a swimming costume, is automatically presumed to be a paedophile. Rather than incur the wrath of any overzealous official or parent, I have restricted myself to taking a photo of the exterior of the pool only - click on the photo for a larger image. In any case, I love the seeming formality of the brickwork and the importance of the "Municipal Swimming Bath" caption above the entrance. It seems to be the exact opposite to the way I would imagine a recreational swimming pool - lively and laughter-filled, with adults and children of all ages relaxing in the cool water.

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Red brick


  1. That old photo is just priceless - no chance of a modern day equivalent???

  2. I don't think the diving boards are there any longer, Cara.

  3. Thanks for this story. I visited today and was interested in knowing more.


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