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Church vows Ocean Baths heritage listing top priority

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If he’s elected Lord Mayor at the City of Newcastle elections on 4 December, Independent Ward 1 councillor John Church will urge the NSW Government to have the iconic Newcastle Ocean Baths, Canoe Pool and surrounding public facilities added to the State Heritage Register.

The former journalist and television presenter, marketing and advertising specialist says there is a strong case for nominating the baths precinct for Heritage Listing and, that if elected, he will make it a top priority.

“I will also immediately start the planning process for stage two of the upgrade works to ensure all of the baths precinct remains in public hands and that the facade and the public facilities are restored to their original grandeur,” he added.

“I would also conduct an immediate review of the decision to concrete over the original sand floor that is important to so many of the users.”

Cr Church believes the baths have state significance on the basis of the rare inter-war facade, and blend of art deco and stripped classical styles.

“Right now the facade is held up by acrow props, a public symbol of this current council’s neglect,” he said.

“The baths also have state significance as the largest bathing complex in Australia.

“I am told that many early Sydney councils were envious of the scale and modernity of our baths.”

Newcastle Independents
(L-R) Newcastle Independents’ Lord Mayoral candidate John Church, Newcastle SLSC president Brad Kinniard, Ward 2 candidate PJ Fallon, Ward 4 candidate Kath Elliott, Ward 3 candidate Dave Wild. Photo: Peter Stoop.

Cr Church says Friends of Newcastle Ocean Baths (FONOB) have welcomed his proposal. 

“They state that ‘combined with the Canoe Pool, the baths is the largest bathing complex in Australia and has state-significance for its rare art deco design and its cultural importance to the people of the Hunter’,” he added.

The baths, he says, are also on the radar of backpackers who travel to Newcastle specifically to enjoy the facility.

“Many regular baths users have told me they also want the large outdoor change areas preserved with the possible addition of some family friendly change rooms,” Cr Church said.

“I understand the current Lord Mayor was approached by FONOB about nominating the baths for State Heritage Listing in March this year.

“If elected, I will make this a top priority for council.”

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