Friday, April 7, 2017

A Connection with the 1917 Baths and Lavatories Committee

During the period leading up to the launch of my book, Down at the Baths, many interesting stories started emerging, but one story in particular deserves mention.

Back in 1917 when the Palmerston North Municipal Baths were constructed and opened, they were administered by Council's Baths and Lavatories Committee. The chairman of that committee was Cr H.E. Bennett, but it is another member of that group that I wish to remember today.

One hundred years after the opening of the baths, local city councillor Adrian Broad made an exciting discovery. His great, great uncle, E.L. Broad, was a member of the Baths and Lavatories Committee in 1917 and his name can be seen engraved on the commemorative opening day plaque.

Cr. Adrian Broad must feel very proud to be able to serve the people of the Palmerston North community one hundred years after his great, great uncle was doing the same.

The photo of the opening day plaque pictured here was taken by Pat Scrivens and is on display in the foyer of the Palmerston North Lido Aquatic Centre.

Monday, March 27, 2017


Taking orders now for : 
The Story of the Palmerston North Municipal Baths
By Val Mills
Cold water, short summers and the lingering smell of chlorine on the skin were less important than fun and friendship while swimming outdoors in all weather down at the baths in Ashley Street.
‘Thank heavens they never went ahead with the roof,’ one swimmer said.
The Palmerston North Municipal Baths opened in 1917 and served the community for nearly fifty years. Four custodians and their families called it home and so did the Palmerston North Swimming Club. It was a place for local people to swim and socialise.
Val Mills regarded the Municipal Baths as her second home during the 1960s and believed the story of this local landmark should be recorded before it was forgotten. Her thorough account tells how the baths served the local community, from the perspectives of the swimming public and the Council making the decisions.
Now, one hundred years since opening, it is time for the story to be told.

Val Mills grew up in Palmerston North, swimming for the Palmerston North Amateur Swimming Club and the Manawatu Swimming Centre in the 1960s. She and her husband returned to live in the city in 2004 and she started writing short fiction and memoir.
Val has one previous publication, West End the Best End, School memories from the 1950s, published in 2012.

Price: NZ$25 plus $3 postage within New Zealand, $5 internationally. PayPal accepted for international orders (
- sorry, no credit card facilities.
Orders to: Val Mills, P.O. Box 1237, Palmerston North 4440, New Zealand, or including postal details.
For bank deposit please e-mail for details. 


Sunday, February 26, 2017



The Story of the
Palmerston North Municipal Baths
By Val Mills

DATE: 3 APRIL 2017      TIME: 5.30 PM
George Street Entrance

PRE-ORDERS AVAILABLE from 3 April.                           PRICE: NZ$25

Friday, February 3, 2017

Three Years Research and Writing Over

This blog may have lain idle, but I certainly haven't. I discovered that researching and writing the story of the Palmerston North Municipal Baths demanded more time than I imagined. For more than twelve months I've spent several hours most days either researching or writing the book, leaving no energy left for blogging.

However, writing this story has now come to an end. The book is finished, the story is told and in another two months Down at the Baths will be launched. It's time to return here and share some of the story with you.

This photo was taken in the late 1950s by the custodian of the time, Wes Hayward. For any public facility such as this to have a story to tell, people are needed. The custodian has prepared the baths for a swimming carnival and they sit waiting for the swimmers and officials to arrive.

The baths story unfolded over nearly 50 years, between opening in 1917 and closing in 1966. The story could be that of any swimming facility from that era.

Maybe this will remind you of your own local baths or swimming pool? I'd love to hear of your experiences.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Aligning Two Journeys, Baths of the Past and Writer of the Present

Procrastination can be one of my major enemies, creating indecision and a tendency to drift. That has been my case, not in researching and writing my book, but in maintaining this blog to keep up with recording my progress. I'm an old-fashioned girl. I've been writing in my journal instead. Maybe my major problem with the blog has been that, until now, I've not been able to see the journey clearly.

In a similar way, the local Council displayed a similar inability to make the decision to build the baths back in the early 1900s. No one could see the finished product clearly enough to push
 decisions forward, enabling progress to happen.

Just as the Council were forced into making a decision, so I am now determined to have this blog reflect the progress of the story of the baths. The baths story and my writing story are finally aligned.

Monday, September 28, 2015

From Swimming Log to Writing Log

Photo of swimming sqaud at Palmerston North Municipal Baths in the early 1960s. Val Mills

Time passes quickly when you're having fun, and so my presence here has been neglected. A lot of research and writing ground has been covered in the four or five months I've been absent, but the time has come to include this blog as part of my regular writing process. It's all about becoming more organised and consistent.

You see, I'm now only one year away from when I want the first draft of 'Down at the Baths' to be completed. I have books filled with notes, lists of people still to interview, and of practical things that need to be attended to. But, everything is going to plan and I seem to be on schedule.

In reflecting on my success as a swimmer I have fond memories of the little pink log book in which we set our goals, recorded our daily training and reflected on our successes. I'm sure that book was instrumental in developing my strong competitive nature.

And so, success in one area needs to be transferred into other areas. It's back to a log book, this time to plot my research and writing progress. It's all set up and ready to go, with a weekly blog post included in the plans.

There's weekly goals, a daily diary of achievements, notes to myself and space for reflection at the end of each week. Now, it's full steam ahead, one year to cross the first finish line toward the completed project. Wish me well.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Finding A Place to Write

Gathering research is one thing, but until now I've put off doing the actual writing. I kept telling myself I don't have enough information yet. Thankfully I realised this is silly. As a one time boss of mine once said when I told him I wasn't ready to take the next step, when will you be?

So, I gave myself a talking to this week and chose to take the next step. Yes, I'm finally getting on with the writing. There's much written already of course, little disconnected bits, all filed away, hoping they'll find the right place to settle in the larger scheme of things. Writing at home is fine, but as yet I haven't disciplined myself to ignore interruptions.

Have you ever noticed that when the time is right things happen? My thoughts strayed to a room, a writers room, with nothing more than a table and chair. And tucked away at the back of my head the answer had been waiting for me.

To cut a long story short, I've found a room in a community house, free of charge, that I've hired for three hours once a fortnight. Imagine that, a room to shut myself away from the world, where I can't do anything else but write. Won't that be exciting? I can't wait to get started.