Summer swimming is on its way

Contrary to popular belief, the bathing machine was not invented in Margate.  Its first use was probably in Scarborough, in North Yorkshire, around 1730.    In its early days, sea bathing was a quick total submersion in the water and was intended as a medical treatment rather than a pleasant experience.  The bather took off all his or her clothes in the bathing machine and was then plunged into the sea by attendants.  Margate’s enhancement to the bathing machine came in around 1750, when Benjamin Beale, a Margate glove and breeches maker, invented a canvas hood which could be pulled down to protect the naked sea-bather from prying eyes.  The hiring charge for a bathing machine in around 1770 varied from 9d for two or more gentlemen bathing themselves to 1/6d for a gentleman taking a machine with a guide.  It is believed that naked bathing continued until 1862, when a Byelaw was passed stating that male and female bathers were to be segregated by not less than 60 feet, and that all owners of bathing machines would provide gowns or dresses to female bathers and drawers or similar to male bathers.
The Royal Sea Bathi
ng Hospital was opened in 1791, when it was believed that sea bathing and sea air were the best cures for tuberculosis.  Patients in their beds would be pushed from their wards into the fresh air, and the hospital had a sea-water reservoir so that patients could be bathed in sea water.
As the years went by, sea bathing became more of a pleasurable thing to do and the town was developed rapidly as more and more visit
ors came to the seaside. 

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7 responses to “Summer swimming is on its way

  1. ..

    First, thank you very much for the blog. It is interesting. Didn’t know all these things. Thank you!I LOVE the pics – I just look at the bottom one and wonder: how can u bathe with all those on ya? Today’s "skimpies" or almost nothing on … much better.At least you can swim or feel the water on your skin. All dressed up … I don’t know??!! Funny fashion back then, eh? Not all of it … the bathing suits I mean.Take good care of you and have a wonderful week. ALEX XXX

  2. Martin

    Loved the history :-) and the pictures, amazing what they used to wear ands surprising that they didn’t drowned LOL

  3. Happy

    Thanks for a totally fascinating read because I never knew about a bathing machine. Photos priceless. The swimming outfits (?) look like they’d weigh a ton when wet. Thanks for post. Have a great big fat happy Monday.

  4. Jessica

    I wonder what the people then would think if they could see us on the beach today, wearing hardly anything! Could they have imagined that! I wonder if those cotumes became see-through when wet?

  5. .

    Very interesting read, Penny. Thanks.


    Very interesting Penny, we had bathing machines here in Newquay as I have seen old photographs of them run out on Towan beach when the tide was out..

  7. Jodine Derena

    How far we have come Lol. It must have been such a tedious experience back then. A tad bizzarre at best. This is a very interesting blog Pen. Jx

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