FOR 100 years, Novocastrians have splashed in the salt water of the Newcastle Ocean Baths.
But a landmark day for the city icon has passed almost unnoticed and without fanfare.
Historical information suggests that several ‘‘visitors to the city’’ were the first to take a dip on New Year’s Day, 1912.
Construction of the pool began in 1910, and though the pool was used ‘‘unofficially’’ from 1912, it was not complete until after World War I.
To see more pictures of the Newcastle Ocean Baths throughout the years, click on the image below.
According to Newcastle City Council records, the baths were officially opened in November 1922, after the art deco pavilion was built.
Famous Hawaiian swimmer and surfing pioneer Duke Kahanamoku performed an exhibition at the baths in February, 1915.
Read the Newcastle Herald's editorial on this story by clicking here.
The Canoe Pool next to the baths, originally the Young Mariners Pool, was built for children in 1930.
One of the pool’s features was a 20-metre-wide elliptical map of the world, jutting about 20centimetres above the water during low tide.
The map was damaged during a storm and removed in the late 1960s, but its remnants remain beneath the sand and are occasionally still visible.
Over the next few decades the pavilion was sadly allowed to fall into disrepair, and a Newcastle City Council project to restore the building was beset with cost blowouts and frequent attacks by vandals.
The original construction also proved controversial.
At the time, one of the Newcastle Municipal Council aldermen branded the project’s soaring costs as ‘‘a bungle from start to finish’’.
The pool was constructed by hammering into the rock plateau and using a small rail line and big draught horses to carry the rock away.
The art deco flourishes were added to the pavilion in 1927.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.