Once the lake was established there was a call to use it for recreational swimming. The town did not have a swimming pool and the water in the Recreation Ground looked safe and inviting. Following a public meeting chaired by C. W. Govett, he and Mr. R. H. Thompson were charged with approaching the Board with a scheme to build a bathing shed and get permission to swim in the lake. The Board agreed but stipulated that swimming would not be allowed until a Bathing Shed was erected. Plans were drawn up by Mr. Northcroft and then went out for tender.

The issue was how to pay for the Bathing Shed. A committee set up to organise its construction and managed to solicit £40 by way of subscriptions, the remainder was found by other means. A couple of fundraising events were organised, one being the first swimming competition held on Wednesday, April 9, 1879. The competitors had to be suitably attired in drawers and singlets and get changed in the new facilities. The occasion drew a large crowd who sat on the banks overlooking the lake. At that time, the sides of the valley were basically treeless, so there was an excellent view of proceedings. Board member, Robert Clinton Hughes was one of the competitors.

By the 1910s the lake was no longer the main swimming pool in town and the Shed was repurposed as the curator’s tool shed. It remained next to the lake until the new Tea House was built 1931 at which time it was taken down and erected by the path leading from the Tea House to the Fernery. It remained there until it was demolished in 1969.

The Bathing Shed being demolished in 1969. Vic Swan is the man on the right of the picture.

Taranaki Herald, March 18, 1969

Recreation Ground - Bathing shed & Diving Board

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