City Baths, Melbourne
|Architectural style||Edwardian Baroque|
|Town or city||Melbourne|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||John James Clark|
The triangular site between Swanston, Victoria and Franklin streets was reserved for a public bath facility in 1850.
Melbourne City Council opened the first City Baths on 9 January 1860, which housed public baths. The objective was to stop people from bathing in the Yarra River, which by the 1850s had become quite polluted and the cause of an epidemic of typhoid fever which hit the city resulting in many deaths. However, people continued to swim and drink the water. The Baths were leased to a private operator, but lack of maintenance resulted in such deterioration of the building that the Baths were closed in 1899.
After a design competition was won by John James Clark, construction of a new building started in 1903, and the bath was opened on 23 March 1904. Strict separation of men and women was maintained, right down to separate street entrances. Two classes of facilities were maintained, with second class baths in the basement and first class baths on the main floor. The popularity of the swimming pool increased with the introduction of mixed bathing in 1947.
The slipper baths were removed when the building was refurbished in the 1980s: the 'mikva bath' was latter restored.
The Baths now house a swimming pool, Mikveh, spa, sauna, squash courts and a gymnasium. To cater for all types of swimmers, the swimming pool is divided into four lanes: an aqua play lane, a medium lane, a fast lane and a slow lane (or aquatic education, when swimming lessons are given).
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