Melbourne’s iconic City Baths is receiving a much-needed $2.5 million spruce-up, helping to restore the historic fitness centre while supporting jobs and businesses.
Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp, said the baths have come a long way from when they opened in the 1860s so that Melburnians could avoid bathing in the Yarra River, which was polluted and typhoid-ridden at the time.
“More than 60 people have been hired to complete this project, with talented painters, carpenters, and specialist restoration contractors from across Melbourne working to bring the beautiful City Baths back to their former glory.”
“Historic architecture like the City Baths plays an important role in the fabric of our city. The magnificent red-brick building reminds us of our rich heritage while being a practical place for locals to stay fit and healthy,” she said.
“I encourage all Melburnians to don your togs and goggles and make a splash at the upgraded centre.”
The City Baths receives more than 200,000 visits each year. The building is considered to be one of the most distinctive Edwardian Baroque buildings in Melbourne and a sophisticated, early example of the style.
Remedial works include tuck-pointing to restore the banded brickwork, and replacing roof tiling on the cupolas. While the timber ceiling planks are being repaired and repainted in the pool halls, new skylights will be installed, and the walls and columns will receive a lick of paint.
Deputy City Transport, Infrastructure and Operations portfolio lead Councillor Roshena Campbell said the restoration project has created many varied and unique jobs for locals.
“We don’t want grand old buildings like the City Baths to fall into disrepair so we’re working with skilled tradespeople on the restoration,” Cr Campbell said.
“As a heritage-listed building, the zinc fish-scale tiles that embellish the cupolas had to be painstakingly recreated following historic methods.”
“We are lucky to be working with TechRest, a Melbourne family-owned business to complete this ornate work, with very few businesses having the skills to do it. I look forward to seeing the completed works later this year.”
Restoration of the City Baths commenced in 2019. Works already completed include upgrading the reception to be fully accessible, repairs to the leaking spa, improvements to the external training deck and renovating the staff kitchen and lockers.
The pools, spa and sauna may close for short periods while repairs are underway. Works will be completed in September 2021.