A dip into the past

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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.

Posted on December 1, 2014, in Mortlake and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. There is a plaque at 4-6 Bennett Street, Mortlake commemorating Ashton’s Mortlake Baths. [however the actual location was in fact 16-18 Bennett Street, Mortlake – see comment below]

  2. It’s pretty amazing to see how far we have come with our pools! Definitely a blast from the past! 🙂

  3. For information on the campaign to make Parramatta River swimmable again – and vote for your favourite swimming spot – go to http://www.ourlivingriver.com.au/

  4. Samuel Ashton was my great-grandfather. The plaque mentioned above is incorrectly located. My mother brought this to the former Concord Council’s attention in 1993 and again to City of Canada Bay Council’s attention in 2001 and again, in 2014. We are still trying to have the plaque relocated to 16-18 Bennett Street, which was the true location of the baths, referenced in the 1925 Sands Directory.

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