Coronation Baths: end of an era

In 1990 the Coronation Baths in Levin were demolished.

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In 1925 a report to the borough council was that the toilets were in a disgraceful state being a menace to health. 

The nightsoil collection was still being used then and the council voted fifty pounds ($100) to install a modern toilet system and septic tank.  The swimming club helped with finance.

From 1937 the swimming club and other interested persons had been desirous of lengthening the baths to 33⅓ and a third yards, making it 25 metres.  The war intervened before anything was done, and no unessential building was allowed. Even in 1947 materials were scarce and permits had to be obtained for building materials. 

At first a permit for cement was refused.  Succeeding councils see-sawed on a decision on the project.  One Mayor was against the proposal as the baths had lost £1073 ($2146) in the previous three years. 

After continual pressure from the swimming club the council decided to do the project.  A Queen Carnival in 1937 had raised £950 ($1900) and this had been invested and had grown to £1953 ($3906) and a loan of £4200 ($8400) was obtained. 

B.V. Carruthers was the contractor.  The pool was lengthened to 33⅓ yards (25m).  The perimeter of the original pool was also raised one foot six inches (.4m) making the deep end nine feet (2.8m). 

A two-storeyed administration block was built on the corner of Bath and Salisbury Street corner consisting of attendant’s room, office, kitchen and store on the ground floor with a lifesaving instruction room above. 

A sundeck was built on the roof on Bath Street with a high wall.  The improved baths were opened in November 1957. 

Many years ago it is said that one warm, dark evening, some of the Brass Band, after practice decided to have a swim in the baths by climbing over the back to get in. One was going to dive off the high dive when someone discovered, in time, there was no water in the baths. 

The learners’ pool was built in 1965.  A grant from the Levin Borough 50th Jubilee Committee, of its profits, helped finance it. The swimming club raised £1350 ($2700) from carnivals and public subscriptions. 

Messrs Ken Douglas and Laurie Roberts did the excavations free. Mr Jack Bolderson, president of the club, said the project would have been impossible without the free excavation work. 

Swimming club members also did a great amount of voluntary work.  A Palmerston North firm had the contract for the actual pool work. The first load of concrete was delivered by Ohau Shingles.  It was hoped Ken Douglas would not notice this but he did.  However, the contractor agreed to have the concrete from then on bought from Ken’s firm. 

The pool was built on the north side of the original pool. The pool was 30 feet (9m) wide and 35 feet (11m) long with a depth of two feet nine inches (.8m) to two feel three inches (.7m). 

The borough council installed filtration and treatment equipment and built the shed to house it. Originally the pool was emptied of water and new water run in once a week.  This required closing the baths on Friday’s. In later times water was replaced twice a week. 

The baths always had great use made of it by the local schools, especially for annual sports carnivals. 

After the learners’ pool was built the Levin Amateur Swimming Club increased their learn-to-swim coaching. 

The swimming club made great use of the baths for competitions and carnivals until comparatively recent years, when the heated pool at Horowhenua College became available. 

Admission charges about 1965 were three pence (2½c) for children and five pence (5c) for adults.  Concession tickets were children 5/- (50c) for 20 admissions, adults 10/- ($1) for 20 and family tickets were 10/- ($1) for 20. 

Mrs Kaywood was the custodian in 1965.  Some of the custodians of the past were Mr Ray Maby and Mr Theodore de May. 

Electric lighting had been installed earlier, but in 1941 the swimming club had extra lighting fitted around the pool and in the dressing sheds. 

In 1973 a new male dressing shed was built in a disused corner of the Domain.  In the same area a rest area with lawn and trees was formed to encourage people to have a swim and eat their lunch. 

In November 1985 a drowning occurred in the pool.  The coroner criticised the lack of handrails on the pool.  The borough council decided not to reopen the baths for the 1986 season and it was closed permanently. 

The money spent each year on maintenance was to be paid into a fund to be used to help finance a new heated pool in the future. 

Mr King was the custodian for the last season and had been for the last three or four seasons. 

The Coronation part of the original name of the baths was omitted, probably when it was lengthened. The baths were demolished this year, 1990.

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Coronation Baths: end of an era


Creator:Corrie Swanwick
Creation date:29/08/1990
Publisher:The News

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