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Bathing machines

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

Bathing-machines were individual, wooden changing-rooms on wheels, usually drawn into the water by horse, from which the bather could step directly into the sea; modesty hoods could be fitted so that the naked bather could not be seen until covered by water. First appearing in the mid seventeenth century, there were six for men and six for women by 1786. By 1880 the numbers had grown to 150 ladies’ and 100 gentlemen’s machines, but they fell out of favour in the early twentieth century.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

The following resource(s) is quoted as a general source for the information above:

Bathing Machines at the West Pier, c1885. Young women bathing in the sea from bathing machines near to the West Pier, holding onto ropes in case they are swept out to sea. The Hotel Metropole had not yet dominated the skyline along this portion of coastline. The towers of the Chain Pier can be seen in the distance.
Image reproduced with permission from Brighton History Centre

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