The first recorded use of a bathing machine was in Margate in 1750 and by 1900 they were considered very old-fashioned and most had disappeared from Britain’s beaches. The concept was simple, you would enter via the rear steps whilst on the beach, change into your costume in privacy, then a horse would tow your machine into the sea where you could emerge directly via the front steps. Interestingly, mixed gender sea bathing was illegal until 1901 and, perhaps even more surprising, prior to that, nude bathing was common. Whilst not mobile, we Brits still love the bathing machine’s successor, the humble beach hut.
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