A dip into the past
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries there were many tidal swimming pools along the Parramatta River providing welcome relief and recreation on hot days.
Ashton’s Mortlake Baths, established in 1886, were the first enclosed public baths along the Parramatta River. The baths were hand hewn out of sandstone bedrock adjacent to the foreshore of Majors Bay at Mortlake. They were constructed and operated by Samuel Ashton, a bricklayer by trade, who emigrated from England. He and his family lived on the same site.
In the early days males and females were strictly segregated. Under no circumstances were men and women allowed to swim together.
Although electrical pumps had been installed so the baths were not dependant on the tides, competition from larger and more modern swimming pools in the area led to a decline in patronage in the 1930s. Ashton’s Mortlake Baths closed to the public in 1937 and were eventually filled in 15 years later.