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Mackay Memorial Swimming Centre now heritage listed


Mackay’s Memorial Swimming Centre has been entered into the Queensland Heritage Register.

The Queensland Heritage Council (QHC) entered the swimming centre into the register at its meeting on 26 June 2020.

The centre, in Milton Street, was built in 1963 during a period in the 1950s and 1960s when “memorial pool” construction peaked throughout Queensland.

“The Mackay Memorial Swimming Centre is important in demonstrating Queensland’s involvement in a major world event,” QHC Deputy Chair George Seymour said.

“In its form, fabric, materials and layout, the centre is an excellent example of a post-World War II ‘living memorial’ with the dual purpose of providing commemoration and a community facility.”

One of the main reasons the swimming centre qualified for entry into the Queensland Heritage Register was its “intactness”, a key criterion for State heritage listing.

“The centre’s entrance building, plant building, swimming and wading pools, change rooms, offices, storeroom and kiosk, landscaping and open grounds for recreation are all essentially original, including original tiles in the pools and turnstiles at the entrance.

“The mosaic memorial mural, prominent on the entrance building’s front wall, is an excellent example of this form of commemoration, recognising the Mackay community’s contribution to World War II with its high quality design, materials and artisanship.

“The centre has been well maintained over the years and has a long and enduring relationship with the people of Mackay,” Mr Seymour said.

According to historical records, Mackay locals had to wait until 1963 for a public bathing complex in the city, even though this kind of facility was proposed as early as 1879.

In 1944, the Mackay City Council employed well-known Queensland architect Dr Karl Langer to design a town plan, including a swimming pool, and while Dr Langer provided a number of plans and sketches for a landscaped pool complex, none came to fruition.

In 1954, Council’s engineers drew up plans for a swimming centre and although a lack of funds delayed the project, Mackay service clubs, swimming clubs, the RSL and the Royal Australian Air Force supported the project, with local fundraising helping to raise £20,000 of the £90,000 needed to build the centre.

The application to heritage list the centre was received from the Mackay War Memorial Swimming Pool Community Action Group in January this year.


Image: Department of Environment and Science.