Bancroft Bath No. 2
Bancroft Bath No. 2 is located adjacent to boardwalk on the Deception Bay foreshore below Captain Cook Parade. Like Bath No. 1, it is cut into a sandstone formation. Bath No. 2 is considerably smaller than Bath No. 1 and differs in that is has an inlet pipe.
Bath No. 2 is located on the Deception Bay foreshore close to the highwater mark and immediately adjacent to a recently constructed boardwalk (27 10 992 S 153 01 783 E). The bath is located east of the intersection of Captain Cook Parade and Seymour Street.
A similar method was used as with Bath No. 1, except that all the silt and debris was removed manually.
The bath is situated within an irregular shaped sandstone formation with a maximum length of 10 m and width of 5 m. This formation extends at its highest point 1 m above the level of sand.
On the landward side of the formation is an elevated timber boardwalk and on the seaward side is an extensive stand of mangroves.
The bath is a rectangular shape cut into the sandstone formation, 3000 mm in length and 1800 mm wide. The floor of the bath is covered with a thin layer of cement rendering. Tool marks indicate the use of hand tools to excavate the bath. Unlike Bath No. 1, there is no evidence of the use of explosives.
The northern end of the bath comprises natural sandstone and a small brick wall. This wall has a height of 365 mm (five courses of brick) and width of 520 mm. At the base of the brick wall is a small clay drainpipe with an internal diameter of 50 mm.
The outlet pipe indicates that the level of sand was significantly lower in the late nineteenth century than at present.
The only artifact of significance from Bath No. 2 was a broken section of th segment of the inlet pipe. This section is 190 mm with a diameter of 70 mm. The pipe has a thickness of 12 mm. Cement mortar is adhered to part of the pipe.
The 2002 heritage assessment raised a number of issues concerning Bath No. 2. Apart from the factual errors in the plaque erected on the bath (now removed), the report raised questions about the lack of evidence concerning the construction and use of this bath. It concluded:
There is insufficient conclusive evidence at this stage to support inclusion of Bancroft’s bath, by that name, on any heritage, whether national, state or local.
With the survey of both Bath No. 1 and Bath No. 2, a more definitive assessment is now possible although a number of issues remained unresolved. First, it is clear that the main bath used by the Bancroft family was Bath No.1.
Bath No. 2 is a more modest feature, the principal difference being the inclusion of drainpipe.
A number of issues, however, remain unresolved. First, who built this bath and why? Given the similarities to Bath No. 1, it is most probable it was built by either Joseph or Thomas Bancroft. Certainly, it is highly unlikely that it was built by subsequent owners, such as the Dunne brothers. The construction of both baths required some capital and labour and no evidence suggests that the Dunne brothers, who were principally farmers, had constructed such as feature.
But who did construct Bath No. 2, Joseph or Thomas Bancroft?. There is a prima facia case for Thomas. Bath no2 is located on the foreshore below where Thomas Bancroft’s house was situated (see locality plan, Figure 1). The location of his house has been determined from photographic evidence as well as oral tradition. Doug Smith recalls the remnants of a garden close to the former recreation reserve and it is most likely these remnants were associated with Thomas Bancroft’s house.
Therefore, it could be that Thomas built the Bath No. 2 as Bath No. 1 was too far away and he wanted a seabath reasonably close to his house. Moreover, Bath No. 2 could have been constructed to overcome the problem or deficiency with Bath No. 1 – that is, it could not be drained easily. The only means of draining this bath would have been to pump the water manually. It is likely that Bath No. 1 would have needed draining on a periodic basis.
Bath No. 2, although smaller, clearly is an improvement in terms of the capacity to easily drain the water and flush out any debris with each tide.
The 2002 heritage assessment suggests, however, that Thomas did not construct Bath No. 2. It notes that ‘the relatives and those closely associated with Bancroftiana are adamant that Joseph built the bath for Anne, that Anne’s son Thomas took no part in its building and that it was not built for her
Figure 14. Inlet pipe recovered from Bath No. 2.
daughter-in-law Cecilia’.4 While it is true that Thomas did not built a bath for his mother, it is possible that he did build a bath for his own family’s use, close to his house.
Another possibility it that Joseph built Bath No. 2. Although some distance from his house, the location was dictated by a sandstone formation that was high enough to enable the construction of a bath where it was possible to drain the water regularly.
Yet another issue to consider is that Bath No. 2 was not built for either recreational or therapeutic use, but for scientific research. Given Thomas’ great interest in marine research and the use of the rockpools on the foreshore for capturing sea creatures, it is possible that he built an extensive pond or pool to study marine activity. On the other hand, it does appear that such a construction was a major undertaking when Thomas was already able to collect and study specimens in the existing rockpools on the foreshore. It is more likely that the bath was intended for human use.
No definitive answers are possible from the archaeological evidence to a number of questions about Bath No. 2. What can be stated, however, is that it is entirely presumptuous to call Bath No. 2 ‘Mrs Bancroft’s bath’. She may have bathed in it and it may have been built for her, but no documentary or archaeological evidence supports this assertion. The archaeological evidence indicates only that Bath No. 2 was constructed by a Bancroft and was an improvement on Bath No. 1 with its drainage and flushing capacity.
The current signage on the boardwalk should be amended in light of the findings in this report.
That expert advice be sought as to the most appropriate conservation measures for the bath.
The section of inlet pipe should be conserved. It could form a display in the CSC library about the baths.