Edwin Jackson’s Baths – Petone’s First Swimming Pool

Edwin Jackson reported to the Hutt and Petone District Town Boards about swimming baths in Kilbirnie, Wellington; and suggested that similar be adopted for Petone in January 1887. Petone beach was not a safe or pleasant place to swim, waste from the Gear Meat Company was discharged straight into the harbour, colouring the water brown and resulting in a stench that attracted sharks.

Jackson came up with a solution. On the Esplanade he built a swimming bath supplied with sea water and supplemented by artesian bores.

The pool was located between Sydney and Nelson Streets. (Jackson resided in Nelson Street). The baths were 96 feet long and 48 wide. There were also 3 plunge pools.

The pools were popular, with the public coming out from Wellington to use them.

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Evening Post, 29 December 1893.

After Jackson died in April 1896 the Petone Borough Council considered purchasing the baths. In 1901 ratepayers were polled to gauge public interest in the council raising loans for this purpose.

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Evening Post, 4 April 1901.

The poll was defeated and the baths were eventually closed and filled in about 1904. However the main pool appears to have still been intact in the 1930s.

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Evening Post, 19 January 1932.

Edwin Jackson

Edwin Jackson arrived in New Zealand in 1857 and settled in Petone in 1868. He set up in business as a farmer and bricklayer. He eventually acquired a substantial block of land in the town which he subsequently subdivided. He was a member of the Petone Town Board and Borough Council. Petone’s main street was named in his honour.

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Edwin Jackson, c18?? Hutt City Libraries collection.

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