Skip links and keyboard navigation

Spring Hill Baths

Place Details
Place ID 600313
Registration Type State Heritage
Place Name Spring Hill Baths
Alternative Name City Baths, Arthur Street
Municipal Baths, Spring Hill
Place Classification Built
Place Category Recreation and Entertainment
Place Type Swimming pool/Baths
Themes 8 Creating social and cultural institutions / 8.5 Sport and recreation
Register Entry Date 21/10/1992

Address 14 Torrington Street
Town / Suburb SPRING HILL
Post Code 4000

Cultural Heritage Significance
Principal Period
of Significance
1886, 1902, 1913 (fabric), 1886-ongoing (Social)
Criterion A Spring Hill Baths is important in demonstrating the evolution of Queensland's history, in its innovative role in promoting public health in Brisbane, including providing a means of the daily flushing of the Spring Hollow drainage scheme.
Criterion B Spring Hill Baths demonstrates rare aspects of Queensland's cultural heritage, being Brisbane's first inground public baths and being a substantially intact example of late 19th century public swimming baths, complete with early changing cubicles.
Criterion D Spring Hill Baths is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of late nineteenth century public baths.
Criterion E Spring Hill Baths is important in exhibiting an aesthetic contribution to the Torrington Street streetscape and Spring Hill townscape, which is valued by the community.
Criterion G Spring Hill Baths has had a strong community association with Brisbane competitive swimming, swimming instruction, and local recreation since the 1880s.

History Constructed for the Corporation of Brisbane in 1886 at a cost of £2,526, the Spring Hill Municipal Baths provided the city with its first inground public baths. They replaced in popularity the older floating baths in the Brisbane River, and provided an important hygiene/sanitation facility in Spring Hill. They were erected during the 1880s expansion of Brisbane municipal works, which included construction of the second reservoir on Spring Hill and an extensive drainage system in Spring Hollow. Enoggera contractor William McCallum Park built the structure to a design by city engineer Thomas Kirk, completing the work in August 1886. On the evening of 9 December 1886 and amid great ceremony, the baths were opened by the Mayor of Brisbane, James Hipwood, who took the first plunge. One of the principal reasons for establishing the Torrington (Arthur) Street bath was its location above the Spring Hollow (Water Street) drain, installed in 1884, the waste water from the baths providing a daily cleanse. River water from Petrie's Bight was pumped to a small reservoir at the top end of Albert Street, then gravity fed down Spring Hill to the Hollow, where it was stored in holding tanks (now boarded over) at the far end of the baths. Each evening the pool was drained and every morning the water was replenished in a process lasting several hours. This system of flushing the Spring Hill drain was employed for three-quarters of a century. Not until 1914 did the city council install a salt water supply scheme to which the baths were linked. As the Brisbane River grew more polluted, chemicals were added to the pool water, and finally a filtration system was installed in 1961. In 1902 a gallery and diving platform were erected at the western end of the baths, necessitating the removal of several of the dressing sheds. These were re-instated in 1913 when the gallery was extended around three sides. Also in 1913 an awning was erected over the front entrance. The present club room extension appears to have been added at a later date. In 1962 a male toilet block was added along the northern elevation, and the caretaker's accommodation was extended. Until construction of the Wickham Street Municipal Swimming Baths in 1926, the baths at Spring Hill remained the venue for most of Queensland's competitive swimming, both school and amateur. In 1927 it was one of the first pools in Australia to allow mixed bathing, and it remains one of the oldest still in use. In recent years the club room has accommodated an art gallery, and the pool has been used for a variety of purposes, including community theatre.

Description The Spring Hill Baths is a two-storeyed rendered brick building with a pitched corrugated galvanised iron roof on steel trusses. It has a rendered brick parapet facade which abuts the street alignment, and a double height swimming hall containing a 23.5 metres long by 9.1 metres wide concrete pool, encircled by a timber gallery and 57 dressing boxes. A two-storeyed caretaker's residence occupies the eastern end of the building facing Torrington Street. A single-storeyed weatherboard clubroom and concrete block toilets are located along the northern edge. Lightweight steel trusses span the full width of the swimming hall, resting on engaged brick piers. The roof has been reclad, and while the original roof fully covered the swimming hall, a large central portion of the roof is now open to the sky. The steel trusses appear to be original. Square timber columns support the timber balustrade and gallery of tiered timber seating, creating a loggia around the perimeter of the pool. Various signs are incorporated into the timber work, such as Ladies Only This Side and Gents Only This Side. A foundation stone is included in the concrete siding at the north-eastern corner of the pool. The street facade gives the building substantial presence within the domestic streetscape. It presents a balanced arrangement of arched sash windows and doorways, with a simple parapet and pediment. On the latter is displayed the date 1886 and the inscription Municipal Public Baths James Hipwood Mayor. The facade is crowned with masonry urns and plaster floral motifs. The street entrance is covered by a corrugated iron awning on timber frame and brackets. Apart from the addition of a filtration system and toilets, the baths remain intact in form, structure and interior detail.

Element Name Spring Hill Baths
Designer Name Kirk, Thomas
Design Period 1870s - 1890s Late 19th century
Builder Name Park, William M
Construction Period 1886 - 1913
Construction Method Load-bearing brick
Fabric (Exterior Structure) Brick - rendered
Fabric (Roof) Metal sheeting - corrugated iron
Roof Form Gabled
Place Components Residential accommodation - staff quarters
Changing rooms/Dressing shed
Swimming pool

Images and Maps
Maps Create a Web Map

Information about places in the Queensland Heritage Register is maintained by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) under the Queensland Heritage Act 1992. Information available here is only part of the full Register entry and should not be taken as an official entry. Absence does not mean a particular place is not in the Register.

Certified copies of the full entries in the Register are available for a fee.

You can also search the full Register for a fee to find out if a place or parcel of land is listed or otherwise affected by the Act.

Last updated: 15 March 2013

Heritage Search Options