Sea Point Pavilion

The pools along the Sea Point coast have an interesting history in that for decades people have enjoyed bathing. Today there is still the Milton Pool and the Saunders pool. Given the rough sea along the coast, these rock pools were made to be tidal pools, making it easier for people to swim. Opened in 1895, the Sea Point baths were built at the foot of Church Road. Above the pool, there was a wooden structure with cubicles, and there were, of course, separate bathing hours for men and women. The baths lasted until 1911 when a storm washed them away.

The Sea point swimming pol has been an institution in Cape town for decades. Starting from a typical salt-water tidal pool that filled from waves crashing over its outside wall, it is today a fairly sterile collection of freshwater rectangles - rated by some as one of the world's top ten swimming pools. The lack of any stands makes unsuitable galas, while the locals have to fight to prevent developers turning the facility into a shopping mall.

Later, the famous Pavilion opened in 1914 and served Sea Point for 40 years. People have fond memories of the Pavilion: “On top of the pavilion was an open air cinema. Above the cubicles by the pool were a tearoom and an open-air stage. It was beautiful at night.”

“The usual crowds of kids were also there during the holidays. Vic Davis and his band entertained us in all kinds of ways. We sat on the sand, watched, and listened with delight. He used to call children to come onto the stage to perform which we considered to be an honour.”

“There were talent contests at the pavilion. The audience would boo you or cheer for you. Everyone would sit in their bathing costumes on the sand.”

The Pavilion was later rebuilt to accommodate more people.

“Sea Point was more like a family residence. For instance the Pavilion, the old Pavilion, it had a restaurant upstairs, on the second level, and it had a smaller pool for kiddies surrounded by sand and the main sort of pool. Everybody knew everybody else because it was a much smaller community then.”

See the Friends of Sea Point pavillion FB group here.