bathing machines

What Were Victorian Bathing Machines? – Starting in the 1750s, beaches were suddenly filled with so-called bathing machines. These were basically wooden changing booths, with wheels and wooden steps that led inside.

bathing machines

During the Victorian era of British history, a period associated with Queen Victoria’s reign from 20 June 1837 until her death, on 22 January 1901 plenty of bathing machines were designed to prevent anyone from seeing a woman in her swimsuit before she slipped into the waves.

These bathing machines were invented in times when most people still swam naked. Even when early forms of swimwear did start being introduced, society conveniently decided that a ‘proper woman’ should not be seen on the beach in her bathing suit.

So, something had to be done and bathing machines seemed like a perfect solution. Once the woman got inside the bathing machine she must change into a swimsuit. Then, the four-wheeled box would be rolled out to sea, usually by horse or sometimes human power.

Once the machine plunged far enough out into the ocean waves, the woman could quickly dive off the float.

Victorian Bathing Machines

On some beaches, inexperienced swimmers were offered the service of a “dipper”, a strong person of the same sex who would escort the bather out to sea in the cart and essentially push them into the water and yank them out when they were done.

When legal segregation of bathing areas in Britain ended in 1901 and it finally became acceptable for both genders to bathe together, it was the beginning of the end for the bathing machine.

By the 1920s bathing machine ceased to be used. Yet, even today, you can sometimes see bathing machines on the beach.

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