Uitenhage pre-dates the nearby city of Port Elizabeth by some 15 years. It was the administrative capital of the District as the seat of the Drosdy, founded in 1804.
Despite its early significance, Uitenhage was soon overshadowed by the British settlement at Port Elzabeth. It is mainly an indisutrial town with a number of motor car manufacturer's factories located near the town.
The town built a early swimming pool which was later replaced with a 50m pool. There are a number of schools like Muir College and Riebeeck Girls HS which have swimming pools.
The local hospital had a pool which was heated and used by local swimmers, but that has now become a dead pool.
The Uitenhage Swimming Club and the Dolfin Swimming Club are based in Uitenhage. The nearby town of Dispatch forms part of the Uitenhage industrial complex. It has/had a municipal swimming pool, and a swimming club did function there in the past. The photo below shows members of the Despatch swimming club with their coach Sarel van der Walt. The occasion was an EPASA league gala hosted by the Despatch club in the municipal swimming pool.
Before baths were thought of in Uitenhage, the Swartkops river had always been a favourite bathing place. In 1869, the Board of Commissioners had to regulate bathing times in the river.
Bathing was forbidden between 7:30AM and 4PM from April 1 to September 30, and between 7AM and 5PM from October 1 to March 31.
A constable was engaged at 2s. a day and stationed on the river banks to enforce the rule.
Apparently the policeman was not vigilant enough because a good deal of surreptitious bathing still went on.
Mr. C. Heugh complained to the Council that the water was fouled for washing wool. He had been forced to suspend washing for the day.
The Commissioners then chose two bathing p[laces and withdrew the regulation.
Since then the municipality has continued its efforts to foster the swimming tradition for which the town had become famous in the Eastern Cape.
Organised swimming in Uitenhage started in about 1897. The first swimming club was formed in September 1898. The President was the Hon. J.F. Dolley M.L.C. and the Secretary/Treasurer Mr. E. Young Esq. The club was affiliated with the English Life Saving Society.
In October 1898 the first swimming bath was opened by the Mayor Mr. G. Macpherson. The bath 100 ft long, 40 ft wide and 3,7 ft deep. In the shallow end and it was situated in the Lower Market street. It had 8 dressing rooms, shower baths, a caretaker’s house and an 8 ft concrete platform around the bath. The bath was built by a Mr. Carton, who was personally supervised by Mr. J. Channer, vice-President of the club.
Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 10AM and 4PM were reserved for the ladies. In 1898 the President J.F. Dolley presented the club with a beautiful trophy to be called “The Challenge Cup”. It was to be presented to the Club Champion every year and was won for the first time by W.J. Turner. This trophy is still awarded annually to the winner of our Men’s Championship. The Uitenhage Water Polo team won the E.P. Water Polo League Championship for the first time in the 1899/1900 season.
The first official Aquatic Sports to be held in Uitenhage was in 1899. In rather windy weather the events were keenly contested by the members of the Marist Brothers Swimming Club, the Port Elizabeth Swimming Club and the Uitenhage Swimming Club. The Challenge Cup was presented to O.C. Rudman, who won the Club Championship over 2 lengths of the bath in 51,2 seconds. A blindfold race, an underwater swimming competition, a plate diving competition (the winner J. Boss achieved the remarkable result of 36 plates), a breaststroke race and a water polo match were interesting features of the programme.
The Uitenhage Swimming Club functioned until about 1913 and was followed by the S.A. Railways Swimming Club which operated for a number of years until 1935.
Kwanobuhle Swimming pool next to Uitenhage
Despatch Municipal swimming pool