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Archive for the ‘Bathing Costume’ Category

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Sky News reports: The plans include a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s splash area, pavilion and cafe for the public. Water will be naturally treated and heated with alternative energy sources.

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But the original features of the Grade II listed Georgian building will be maintained, including its crescent shape, which mimics the city’s renowned architecture.

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The baths first opened in 1815 after the Bathwick Water Act, which banned nude bathing in the city’s river.

It closed in 1984 and had a brief second life as a trout farm but has fallen into disrepair. It’s been maintained by volunteers and more than £800,000 has been raised to help the renovation work.

Discover the history of British swimming just £11.11 inc P&P today only…

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Bathing Machines at Bognor

Today there is much debate as to the right costume for outdoor swimming.

Are you really a wild swimmer if you were a wet suit or should you just wear a swimsuit and brave the cold?

Now in days gone by the issue was a little more sensitive. When day trips to the seaside became fashionable and when both sexes wanted to bathe, something had to be done to protect public decency. Separate bathing areas for men and women were established on the beach and the introduction of bathing machines became a tantalizing spectacle for spectators gathered on the promenade.

The whole story makes a fascinating read – see: Hung Out to Dry, Chapter 3, Sex, Sea and Swimming Trunks – for the full story…

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Western Daily Press reports: “The oldest surviving open-air swimming baths in the UK, in Bath, are set to be fully restored and reopened to the public.

The Grade II listed Cleveland Pools – a 200-year-old Georgian lido – has secured funding of £4.1 million, including a development grant of £366,200, from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The restoration project, run by community group The Cleveland Pools Trust, will conserve the Georgian features and upgrade the facilities to allow for year-round swimming and other activities.

When complete, the site will include a 25-metre swimming pool, children’s splash area, pavilion and cafe. The pools will be naturally treated and heated using the latest technology.”

“The pools first opened in 1815 following the Bathwick Water Act which prohibited nude bathing in the river.

Laid out in the shape of a miniature Georgian crescent, the site includes two bathing pools, the original changing rooms and a private ladies pool.

They are one of only a small number of pre-Victorian sporting buildings to survive nationally and are thought to be the oldest swimming baths of its type in Western Europe.

The site closed to the public in 1978 and after finally closing altogether in 1984 was briefly used as a trout farm.”

 

Nude bathing (or skinny dipping) once common on river and lake-sides throughout the UK was responsible not only for the construction of swimming pools such as this, but also for a shift in cultural attitudes towards outdoor swimming. See Hung Out to Dry, Swimming and British Culture – Chapter 3 Sex, Sea and Swimming Trunks, and Chapter 5 Lidos Open, Rivers Close. More…

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Ladies Bathing Place Bangor County Down

A blast from the Past!

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Bathing Place Chertsey

Happy days! Bathing at Chertsey.

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Heddon Court Bathing Place, 1912

A rare glimpse of Heddon Court bathing place provided for wild swimmers in years gone by.

In an effort to preserve modesty, encourage cleanliness and educate swimmers, bathing places like this were built across the country. facility’s were meager; a bathing attendant, a changing hut (offering shelter to clothing in poor weather), a diving run and some steps attracted swimmers from miles arround. As you can see we don’t need much to enjoy open water. One essential sadly lacking today is the liberty to swim! Visit Europe and you will find outdoor swimming encouraged and enjoyed to the benefit of all. Why are we so prejudice against river and lake swimmers in England?

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Margate Bathing Beach

Changing Tents on Margate Sands

Next time you visit the seaside, keep a lookout for one of those old coin operated telescopes on the seafront. Take a good look at the view and you may wonder why on earth anyone would pay good money to look up and down a featureless empty beach. If you wanted a closer look why not walk onto the sands? The picture below may give you a clue, its all related to decency.

At a time when working class people had little opportunity to wash at home and no concept of privacy, no undergarments to wear when swimming and no desire to restrict their freedom on the beach, the sexes were separated when in public view. Bathing machines were used by the better off and their attempts to hide themselves away became a great summer  amusement.

Mixed bathing

Costumes were essential when mixed bathing later became the fashion. Bathing machines were retired to the back of the beach replaced by the beach huts of the present day. For a time beach tents became the place to get changed but windbreaks and towels have put the changing tents out of business.

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Fashion and lifestyle now dictate a cover all approach for sea bathers, wetsuits and sun-suits are the latest craze. All of these changes have had a dramatic impact on swimmers and bathers.

Read the history of swimming costumes.

 

 

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