Musgrave Park Pool (1967-2017) has reached the grand old age of fifty – quite old for a swimming pool.

To help celebrate this milestone, local historian Steve Capelin and photograher Charles Zuber have joined forces. Steve has researched the early history of swimming in Brisbane and uncovered some gems of photos and a remarkable number of swimming baths in the inner city dating from 1857. Charles has taken a suite of beautiful photos, mostly under water, featuring the murals in the pool painted by Adam Lester.
Steve and Charles are giving a talk in the Brisbane Square Library on Sunday April 9 commencing at 11.00am and will talk about:
  • the beginnings – the river itself, and the Aboriginal people’s use of it; their local camp sites and crossing points.
  • the colonists – who needed relief from the climate and developed multiple swimming baths, most of which were located in the river as enclosures or floated on the river. From the beginning bathing in daylight was banned and mixed bathing was also discouraged. The river was clean – young boys dived for coins from the Dutton Park enclosure in the 1930s.
  • the engineers – who applied their skills to the challenge and water was pumped from the river to fill land based pools.This was the case with Davies Park Pool which was filled with river water until the 1940s when complaints about jelly fish and declining water quality caused a shift to reticulated water. Davies Park Pool was also the first 50 yard pool and the first to allow mixed bathing.
  • the place of swimming pools in the modern era.
In 1967 Davies Park Pool closed and Musgrave Park Pool opened.
A brochure telling the story is in preparation. Steve is looking for donations to help fund this initiative. Donations can be made at Musgrave Park Pool (or Avid Reader Bookshop). Longest serving pool lessee, Alan Humphreys, will welcome you with open arms and maybe tell you the story of his near miss at Olympic selection.
The Exhibtion, titled, “The world of water: A brief history of Brisbane’s public swimming pools runs until from 9 April until 31 May at Brisbane Square Library.
Bookings are essential for the talk on Sunday 9 April, 11am-12noon – so call 3403 4166 to reserve a place.
See Related Story on Wesender – Musgrave Park, from Pool to Gallery


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Photos by Charles Zuber. Pool artwork by Adam Lester.