Early in the history of the Stawell Borough Council, an agitation was started for the council to provide swimming baths for the community.
The project was very much a divided matter, both in the council and among the ratepayers.
In the financial year budget for 1878-79 an amount of 600 pounds was put on the estimates to provide the baths.
In June 1879, tenders for the main portion were called and a tender for 342 pounds was accepted.
This was with extras for 363 pounds with later tenders being called to put a floor in the baths with the following prices being received: brick floor 33 pounds 15 shillings, tar concrete floor 35 pounds and a cement concrete floor at a cost of 60 pounds.
The tender for the brick floor was accepted from a Mr T. Maloney. The work was delayed a great deal and was eventually finished at a total cost of 1300 pounds.
Great difficulty was experienced when the baths were first filled.
They proved to leak very badly, and the borough engineer had to have a gang of men paddling the brick lining to prevent it leaking. This went on for a long time.
The baths were officially opened to the public on Saturday, November 22, 1879 but they were not very well patronised from the start and were referred to locally as "that white elephant".
The baths were kept open intermittently until about 1923.
That was when it was decided that in the view of the apathy of the public - and further that a great deal of repair work and improvements where necessary to bring them up to standard required by the Health Authorities - to close them.
Letters to the Department of Fisheries and Game on December 9, 1918 and September 25, 1926 recorded the interest of the Stawell Angling Club wanting their own hatchery in Stawell, with the support of the Department of Fisheries and Game.
But the department could neither supply the hatchery or ova at that particular time - instead it supplied plans for two hatching boxes to accommodate 36,000 ova.
In March 1927, the Borough Council decided the club could use the now defunct council baths for raising trout which was quickly accepted and some eyed ova purchased from Ballarat. The hatching boxes appear to have had a capacity of about 40,000 ova.
The hatchery continued to operate until at least the mid 1930s. In 1933 they had plans of increasing their ova capacity to 50,000 and later to 100,000.