Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool

Item details

Name of item: Dawn Fraser Swimming Pool
Other name/s: Elkington Park Baths, Balmain Baths, Corporation Baths, Whitehorse Point Baths
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Recreation and Entertainment
Category: Swimming Pool - tidal
Primary address: Glassop Street, Balmain, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Glassop StreetBalmainLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The pool is a complete swimming complex extending back to the turn-of-the century. It is an excellent example of pool architecture no longer practiced and a well known Sydney landmark set in an attractive harbourside location which has become a feature of the pool. It is representative of the development of a harbourside recreational and social facility and is associated with prominent swimming identities and world champions. It provides evidence of the popularity of swimming as a competitive and recreational sport in Australia. (EJE Landscape 1994) (Walker 1991)

Note: This inventory sheet is not intended to be a definitive study of the heritage item, therefore information may not be accurate and complete. The information should be regarded as a general guide. Further research is always recommended as part of the preparation of development proposals for heritage items.
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Builder/Maker: James Reynolds
Construction years: 1882-1924
Physical description: An irregular shaped swimming pool, enclosed by a timber structure, supported by timber piles where it is above the harbour. The main swimming area is almost square with the southern side curved to follow the shore. In the south-west corner, a wedge-shaped children's pool has been made to fit in with the existing configuration. The entrance to the baths is marked by a squat tower, which separates two timber buildings following the curve of the foreshore and contain the changing rooms for men and women and the swimming pool office. The buildings on the harbour side house the Balmain Swimming Club including club change rooms and there is also a tiered stand for spectators. The room in the tower houses the archives of the swimming club, which go back to 1884 and also served as a club meeting rooms. The pool itself is surrounded by a timber deck used for access, watching swimming races and sunbaking. At low tides there is a small sandy beach alongside the entrance.

Nearby the baths, in Elkington Park, is a brick cottage for the manager of the baths. (Walker 1991)
Modifications and dates: 1882 - original pool constructed 1904 - enlarged and manager's cottage built 1924 - enlarged 1956,1957, 1959 - repairs and alterations carried out 1961 - seating gallery installed 1962 - stone wall constructed around children's pool
1993: Demolish, remove and reconstruct piles to east, west and north perimeter decking (93/714).
1994: Construct fence to eastern and western side of pool (94/687).
1995: Propsed reconstruction of northern pavillion (94/278)
2002: Internal modification to kiosk to enlarge kiosk area and new exhaust through the first floor archive room to rear façade of building (D/2002/708).
2003: Internal modifications to enlarge kiosk, new exhaust through the first floor archive room to rear façade of building (CC/2003/366).
2003: Modification to development consent D/2002/708 which approved internal modifications to enlarge kiosk, new exhaust through to the first floor archive room to rear façade of building. Modification includes changes to the Kiosk layout, allow trade to Ellington Park and new gate/turnstiles (M/2003/225).
2004: Modification of CC new opening to park and pool new turnstile and gate relocation of original turnstile and chair (CCMOD/2004/8)
2010 - Remove the existing railing and replace, new concrete deck and remove stairs (D/2010/203)
Current use: Public swimming pool
Former use: Public swimming pool

History

Historical notes: Balmain Council acquired land at White Horse Point for public baths in 1880. A tender by James Reynolds was accepted in 1881 and the baths were in use by January 1882. They were open to men during daylight hours and at limited times for women. (EJE Landscape 1994)
The Balmain Swimming Club was founded in 1884 shortly after the baths were opened. When it celebrated its centenary, it was the first club to do so. The club is also thought to be the first swimming association in Australia and many of its members have achieved distinction in swimming, water polo, diving and life-saving. (Walker 1991)
In 1902 the original 1882 enclosure was replaced with one giving a width of 60 yards owing to pressure from the Club. A two storey changing and viewing pavilion (south) was added as well as two boardwalks extending out from the shore and one diagonal boardwalk. In 1904 a cottage was built in Elkington Park for the manager of the baths.
In 1924 the baths and structures were enlarged. Other main alterations were a north facing changing pavilion and grandstand, two springboards and a tower, a two storey entry pavilion in the south pavilion, changing boxes on the west and east boardwalks, and the Western Shed. Swimmers who used the baths included Tony Fenech, Frank Jordan and Dawn Fraser. Repairs and alterations were carried out in 1956, 1957, 1959; a seating gallery was installed in 1961 and a stone wall was built around the children's pool in 1962. (EJE Landscape 1994)
In 1964 the pool was renamed in honour of Dawn Fraser, local resident and Olympic Swimming Champion at three consecutive Olympic Games. Dawn Fraser learnt to swim at the baths and swam with the Leichhardt-Balmain League of Swimmers from age 8 to 13. She then had two seasons with the Balmain Ladies Club and won two New South Wales Championships. (Walker 1991)
In 1983 the complex was refurbished and at this time much of the fabric of the building was replaced, the lattice was rebuilt and reinstated and the exterior cladding around the edge of the baths above the water was changed from corrugated iron to timber. (Walker 1991)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Growth of Balmain-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Sport-Activities associated with organised recreational and health promotional activities Growth of Balmain-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
It is the most complete swimming complex extending back to the turn-of-the century.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
It is associated with Balmain Swimming Club and various members and Dawn Fraser a local resident and Olympic Swimming Champion at three consecutive Olympic games. (EJE Landscape 1994)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
It is an excellent example of pool architecture no longer practiced and a well known Sydney landmark set in an attractive harbourside location which has become a feature of the pool. (EJE Architecture 1994)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
It is socially significant as a local recrational landmark and the home of the Balmain Swimming Club - probably the oldest swimming club in Australia. It provides evidence of the major popularity of swimming as a competitive and recreational sport in Australia. (Walker 1991)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
One of the few remaining tidal public pools in Sydney Harbour and the only one to retain its over-water-enclosure. (Walker 1991)
Integrity/Intactness: High
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

It is recommended that: - the pool access, buildings, structures and enclosures be retained and conserved; - any works should be carried out in accordance with an up-to-date Conservation Management Plan which has been endorsed by the NSW Heritage Branch.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I23723 Dec 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990 McDonald McPhee Pty Ltd (Craig Burton, Wendy Thorp)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenMax Solling and Peter Reynolds1997Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1940252


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