The Bathing Machine

Posted: June 9, 2015 in History
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Bathing Machine preserved on the Esplanade at Weymouth

Bathing Machine preserved on the Esplanade at Weymouth

It is widely believed that the Victorians invented the bathing machine but in fact evidence suggests that they were in use from at least 1750 in the restore of Scarborough in Yorkshire. The beach had long been a place to avoid but in the 18th century doctors began to promote the healthy aspects of a dip in sea water. The problem remained that given the social customs of the day; how was this to be acheived?

The bathing machine was invented. Bathers got in at the top of the beach and changed into bathing clothes as a horse drew the machine down to the water line.

"Wd b150" by Wilhelm Dreesen - Photo by Wilhelm Dreesen. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wd_b150.JPG#/media/File:Wd_b150.JPG

“Wd b150” by Wilhelm Dreesen – Photo by Wilhelm Dreesen. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wd_b150.JPG#/media/File:Wd_b150.JPG

The original machines included a secluded space which enclosed the bather in the water, but eventually communal bathing became more acceptable, although mixed bathing was still frowned upon.

"Badekarre" by An-d - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Badekarre.jpg#/media/File:Badekarre.jpg

“Badekarre” by An-d – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Badekarre.jpg#/media/File:Badekarre.jpg

bathing-machines-brighton

From 1900 onwards as it became more socially acceptable to be seen on the beach in bathing clothes, the bathing machine started to replaced by the beach hut, a changing facility at the top of the beach. Although these too have declined in number examples can still be seen at many seaside resorts today.

"Beach Huts, Marine Drive - geograph.org.uk - 1772035" by David Dixon. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beach_Huts,_Marine_Drive_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1772035.jpg#/media/File:Beach_Huts,_Marine_Drive_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1772035.jpg

“Beach Huts, Marine Drive – geograph.org.uk – 1772035” by David Dixon. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beach_Huts,_Marine_Drive_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1772035.jpg#/media/File:Beach_Huts,_Marine_Drive_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1772035.jpg

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