Imperial Swimming Baths

Imperial Swimming Baths

Stage Number: MBSH.03.01.69

Group: Southern

Local Study Area: West End-South Brisbane-North Woolloongabba

Epoch: Late 19th Century

Street Address: Corner of Ernest and Stanley Streets, South Brisbane

Latitude & Longitude: -27.47802778,153.02363889

Time Link: 1889

Map Link: 1889

Image Time Point: 1889

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The Imperial Swimming Baths opened in 1889, three years after Brisbane’s first land-based pool opened at Spring Hill. The Imperial was opened by South Brisbane mayor William Stephens in a ceremony featuring swimming displays, flags and Chinese lanterns, a brass band, and which was attended by over 600 people. Swimming at that time was strictly segregated along gender lines, and the Imperial was reserved for females-only from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission on opening night was 1/- and after that 6d, including ‘Towel and Bathing Dress’. The building was extensive enough to later feature a skating rink and even boxing matches. Maintaining land-based pools was an expensive proposition, however, and the Imperial Baths were closed before 1900. The baths are long gone, but the site still attracts bathers today, as it is now home to the Southbank beach and lagoons.


The Telegraph, Friday 4 October 1889, 26 December 1894.

Image Citations

Advertisement for boxing night and swimming carnival, the Imperial Baths, 1894. The Telegraph, 26 December 1894.

Map References

QSA. QSA Series ID 2043 City of Brisbane and Suburbs Maps – A1A Series. 8 chains to the inch. Plan of the City of Brisbane and suburbs according to the original Crown Grants. 8 chains to the inch. Survey Office, Brisbane.. 634511