Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Thames (NZ): Thames High School Swimming Baths

The present Thames High School Baths have been in existence since 1933-34. The establishment of school baths was approved by the Ministry of Education in 1928. There was problem finding the money for this project and the depression of the 1930s added to the problems of financing. Board minutes show that the proposal to cut costs and get the project underway was to use the unemployed in the town. There were Unemployment Schemes active in the town during the depression years.
1933 photo of Rolleston Street, the arrow marking the area where the baths were under construction

In 1931 excavations were carried out for the new baths on Rolleston Street. The New Zealand Herald 14 September 1932 reported that the work was going to be completed thanks to an Art Union. It was noted that the baths would be available to the primary school children in the area. The Thames Jockey Club in 1932 ran the Art Union lottery to raise funds towards the baths project. In 1933, 500 Pounds was received from the lottery towards getting the baths finished. Other funds came from a variety of sources, including a School Fair and the High School Jubilee Committee. The Auckland Star reported in 1933 that the concreting was underway, (right: Auckland Star 2 February 1933)

The dimensions of the pool were: Length 33 1/3 yds, width 10yds. Greatest depth 7 feet 6 inches; and least depth two feet eight inches.

The next dilemma came in June 1933, that of the cost of 97,000 gallons of water fill the baths. The Thames High School Board wrote to the Borough Commissioner requesting assistance. All must have gone to plan for the pools opened for the 1933-34 swimming season. Once the baths were opened they were available for the public to use. The admission charge was 3d (three pennies/pence). Hospital nurses were allowed in for 2d! The money was used to pay for a custodian over the public holidays.

The school first held their swimming sports in the pool on 23 February 1934. Results were published in the local paper and the Auckland Star 24 February 1934. The carnival included all events, ages and catered for all abilities, as seen with the inclusion of a dogpaddle race. Along with the customary house relays. The girls' relay won by Selwyn House and the boys' relay won by Adams House. There were also diving events.
Thames Star 24 February 1934
(the remaining column of results - in sections below)

During WWII, the ditch at the rear of the baths were to be used as a trench, when/if necessary. The photo below was taken in 1947 and shows the Thames High school Baths as they remained for many years, until later years when a new changing shed area was completed.


From the 1970 and 1973 Haurakian, views of the Thames High School swimming sports.
The Thames High School complex, and right of the words "Rolleston St" are the baths today.
 Sources: Thames High School Reunion Books and Haurakian's.

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