On 14th May 1908, in front of a crowd including C.C.C councillors and members of the New Zealand Amateur Swimming Association, Mayor George Payling opened Christchurch’s first indoor pool – The Municipal Baths.
Situated on Manchester Street, the C.C.C had a new building erected on what was previously the Crown Iron Works. As with all city new projects, cost was a grave concern but wanting to promote a healthier life choice to fellow Cantabs, new inventive ways were thought up to keep the bills down. As the pools were to be heated all year round, the burning of Christchurch’s waste in the city’s rubbish furnace was used to help with heating costs. Once completed, the whole project cost £5,500.
Although the facility was greatly promoted, the pools (one main pool along with plunge baths) were not instantly popular with some. Many considered municipal water unhealthy and continued to use outdoor pools and the sea. But as with all new things, it soon became popular; even school children soon taking to the warm water under the promotion that ‘… all should be at home in the water…’
These pools served Christchurch for almost forty years.
*Image courtesy of the Alexander Turnbull Library – Municipal Baths, Christchurch. Webb, Steffano, 1880-1967: Collection of negatives. Ref: 1/1-004314-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23136250