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Encyclopedia > Bathing machine
The proper 1902 woman should not be seen on the beach in her bathing suit — the purchaser of this stereopticon slide likely found it of voyeuristic interest.
The proper 1902 woman should not be seen on the beach in her bathing suit — the purchaser of this stereopticon slide likely found it of voyeuristic interest.

The bathing machine was a device which flourished in the 19th century to allow people to wade in the ocean at beaches without violating Victorian notions of modesty. Bathing machines were in the form of roofed and walled wooden carts which would be rolled into the sea. Some had solid wooden walls; others had canvas walls over a wooden frame. Women in bathing suits outside of a bathing machine, from 1902 stereopticon card This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Women in bathing suits outside of a bathing machine, from 1902 stereopticon card This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Womans bathing suit, 1920s, USA A swimsuit (also swimmers), bathing suit (also bathers) or swimming costume (sometimes shortened to cozzie) is an item of clothing designed to be worn for swimming. ... Stereoscopy, stereoscopic imaging or 3-D (three-dimensional) imaging is a technique to create the illusion of depth in a photograph, movie, or other two-dimensional image, by presenting a slightly different image to each eye. ... Voyeurism is a practice in which the individual derives sexual pleasure from observing other people. ... The worlds oceans as seen from the South Pacific Ocean (from Okeanos, Greek for river, the ancient Greeks noticed that a strong current flowed off Gibraltar, and assumed it was a great river); covers almost three quarters (71%) of the surface of the Earth, and nearly half of the... 90 mile beach Australia A beach or strand is a geological formation consisting of loose rock particles such as sand, shingle, cobble, or even shell along the shoreline of a body of water. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Modesty describes a set of culturally determined values that relate to the presentation of the self to others. ... A simple wooden cart in Australia A cart transporting watermelons in Harbin, China. ... Sunset at sea Look up Sea in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Look up maritime in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


The bathing machine was part of sea-bathing etiquette which was more rigorously enforced upon women than men, but was expected to be observed by people of both sexes among those who wished to be considered "proper". Etiquette, also known as decorum, is the code that governs the expectations of social behavior, the conventional norm. ...


Especially in Britain, men and women wishing to enjoy the sea were usually segregated into separate areas, so that nobody of the opposite sex might catch sight of them in their bathing suits, which (although extremely modest by more modern standards) were not considered proper clothing to be seen in by the general public. Womans bathing suit, 1920s, USA A swimsuit (also swimmers), bathing suit (also bathers) or swimming costume (sometimes shortened to cozzie) is an item of clothing designed to be worn for swimming. ... (See also List of types of clothing and Clothing terminology) Humans nearly universally wear articles of clothing (also known as dress, garments, attire, or apparel) on the body. ...


Using a bathing machine

People would enter the small room of the bathing machine while it was on the dry beach, wearing their street-clothing. In the privacy of the machine they would then change into their bathing suit, placing their street clothes into a raised compartment where the clothing would remain dry.

Mermaids at Brighton swim behind their bathing machines in this engraving by William Heath, c. 1829.
Mermaids at Brighton swim behind their bathing machines in this engraving by William Heath, c. 1829.

The compartments of bathing machines had no windows, as their purpose was assurance of privacy. They were notoriously dark inside. A writer in the Manchester Guardian of May 26, 1906 wondered why bathing machines never had a glass skylight in the roof to allow in a bit of light. [1] File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Wiliam Heath (1737–1814) was an American farmer, soldier, and political leader from Massachusetts. ... The Guardian is a British newspaper owned by the Guardian Media Group. ... May 26 is the 146th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (140th in leap years). ... 1906 (MCMVI) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ...


The bathing machine would then be wheeled or slid down into the water. The most common forms of bathing machines had large wide wheels and were propelled in and out of the surf by a horse or a pair of horses with a driver. Less common were bathing machines pushed in and out of the water by human power. Some very popular resorts had wooden rails put out into the water for the wheels to roll on; a few had their bathing machines pulled in and out by attached cables propelled by a steam engine. Binomial name Equus caballus Linnaeus, 1758 The horse (Equus caballus) is a sizeable ungulate mammal, one of ten modern species of the genus Equus. ... A steam engine is an external combustion heat engine that makes use of the thermal energy that exists in steam, converting it to mechanical work. ...


Once in the water, the occupants would debark from the machine out the sea side down steps into the water. (Many bathing machines had doors at front and at back; those with only one door would either be backed down into the sea or need to be turned around in the trip.) It was considered essential that the water be entered in such a manner that the machine blocked any view of the bather from the shore. Some machines were equipped with a sort of canvas tent which could be lowered from the seaside door, sometimes capable of being lowered to the level of the water, giving the bather an area in the water with greater assurance of privacy.


Presumably some such bathing machine arrangements granted enough privacy that bathers could bathe nude, but if this was done it seems not to be generally mentioned in contemporary accounts. Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to stop information about themselves from becoming known to people other than those they choose to give the information to. ... Body of a woman - digital painting Nudity or nakedness is the state of wearing no clothing. ...


Mention should be made of the practice at some resorts to employ a person called a "dipper". This would be a large strong person of the same sex as the bather who would assist the bather going into and out of the sea. Some dippers were said to rather roughly push the bathers into the water, then yank them out, but this was considered part of the ocean bathing experience.

Man and woman in swimsuits, c. 1910. Woman is exiting a bathing machine. Once mixed gender bathing became socially acceptable, the days of the bathing machine were numbered.
Man and woman in swimsuits, c. 1910. Woman is exiting a bathing machine. Once mixed gender bathing became socially acceptable, the days of the bathing machine were numbered.

Bathing machines would often be equipped with a small flag which could be raised by the bather as a signal to the driver that they were ready to return to shore. Download high resolution version (1083x699, 360 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (1083x699, 360 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... The tricolor flag of France A flag is a piece of coloured cloth flown from a pole or mast, usually for purposes of signalling or identification. ... Shore A shore or shoreline is the land at the edge of a large body of water, such as an ocean, sea, or lake. ...


History of the bathing machine

According to some sources, the bathing machine was first developed about 1750 by one Benjamin Beale at the resort town of Margate, Kent. Other sources say they did not come into common use until some decades later. However, in the Scarborough Public Library there is an engraving by John Setterington dated 1736 which shows people bathing and appears to be the first recorded evidence for the use of bathing machines. Margate was known as Meregate (in 1254) or Margate (in 1293) is on the Isle of Thanet in Kent, England. ... The South Bay at Scarborough Scarborough lies on the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire, England. ...


Bathing machines were most common in the United Kingdom and parts of the British Empire with a sizable British population, but were also used at beaches in France, Germany, the United States, and some other nations. The British Empire was, at one time, the foremost global power and the largest empire in history. ...


Legal segregation of bathing areas in Britain ended in 1901, and use of the bathing machine declined fairly rapidly thereafter. By the start of the 1920s bathing machines were almost extinct, even on beach resorts catering to an older clientele.


External links

  • Beale's bathing machine with canvas tent
  • Martha Gunn page about a professional dipper, with an illustration of a row of bathing machines employing dippers.
  • Bathing machines at the seaside, about 1905, a photograph by Francis Meadow Sutcliffe.

Francis Meadow (Frank) Sutcliffe was a photographic artist. ...


 
 

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