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 resort 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 achieved?
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.
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.
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.