A crowd at the City Baths in King William Street, Adelaide, in 1896, watching the start of a swimming race for girls in neck-to-knee costumes.
Image by Ernest Gail courtesy State Library of South Australia.
 

WAXWORKS, PUBLIC POOL AND 'BEAUTIES INEXHAUSTIBLE' OF CYCLORAMA among
Adelaideans' amusements in the 19th Century 

 

PLENTY OF AMUSEMENTS ATTRACTED PEOPLE TO ADELAIDE CITY CENTRE in the late 19th Century.

A visit to the waxworks was mandatory in 1878. Ghiloni's Waxworks was on the corner of Hindley and King William streets. There was also a waxworks in the basement of the Adelaide Arcade. Another popular attraction was the shooting gallery in Hindley Street, which operated before the 1880s.

A public swimming pool on the corner of North Terrace and King William Street on the site of the Festival Theatre forecourt was operated from 1861 by Thomas Bastard.

Moves for public baths were being mooted as early as 1854 and were viewed as “a paramount importance". They became a reality when water from Thorndon Park reservoir was piped to the city in 1861.

The city also had had several roller skating rinks from the mid 1860s.

People were also attracted to the spectacle of the cyclorama in 1893 at the site of the later West's Theatre at 91 Hindley Street which was also the site of the Olympia Skating Rink (later to become Wests cinema and where Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is now based at Grainger Studio.)

Described as “the grandest and most thrilling art production you have ever witnessed and its beauties inexhaustible”, thecyclorama was stretched around the circular interior of the theatre on a 15m by 1200m canvas that featured huge painted backdrops. Each view was presented for two years. One featured the Battle of Waterloo and the other was of Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion.

Spectators passed under the painting through a tunnel to the centre and ascended to a platform to view the cyclorama.

 

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