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July 19, 2022

Victorian Era Beach Life: 32 Photos of the Bathing Machines in Operation at the Beach

Back in the 18th and 19th century, recreational swimming kickstarted a service industry of aids for decent beach life etiquette. These tools of maintaining dignity were perhaps unsurprisingly mostly aimed at women. Among innovations of this time was the Bathing Machine, or the Bathing Van, which helped bathers change into their bathing attire right next to the water.

Bathing machines became a thing around all of Great Britain’s empire starting ca. 1750 and spread to at least the United States, France, Germany and Mexico to serve the greater goal of common decency at beaches. These bathing machines faced a steep decline after 1901 when gender segregation no longer was a legal requirement on beaches around Britain. On some beaches, bathing machines had already been permanently parked as stationary changing rooms during the preceding decades.

The gist of the blessing bathing machines brought life in the budding modern industrial era is fairly simple. The passenger enters a horse or human-drawn carriage, which is transported some distance out into the water. The van’s human cargo changes into whatever shapeless sack was deemed suitable at the time. 

(via WhizzPast)


  1. fucking victorians .... really comfortable showing up at the beach in a full three piece suit or a gown with ten layers and a bustle.

    1. Fucking American...why so butthurt and judgmental by how people dressed 100 years ago?




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