What a wonderful post about our prim and proper (or not) ancestors. Bathing machines! I feel a story idea coming on …
“Indecency among the Margate Bathers comes round as regularly as the season itself.”
The Era, 23 July 1865.
The Harbor, Margate, England, 1890-1900.
(Library of Congress)
In Victorian England, it was generally believed that the sexes should be kept apart when bathing. To that end, the gentlemen’s wheeled bathing machines at the beach were often kept as much as a quarter of a mile away from the ladies’ machines. This allowed both ladies and gentlemen to enter their respective machines, change into their swimming costumes, and descend into the waves for a swim all without exposing themselves to the lascivious gazes of the opposite sex. There was only one problem—many Victorian ladies and gentlemen actually wanted to swim in company with each other. When they did so, the scandalous practice was known as promiscuous bathing.
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