Witnessing The Last Throes Of Strict Bathing Segregation Laws

A Memory of Paignton.

The caption in the Francis Frith book 'Paignton', by Peggy Parnell (p.46), reads: 'With his powerful business aptitude, Mr Dendy quickly installed the most important tourist commodity, bathing machines; those for the ladies were installed on Paignton beach, those for the gentlemen on Preston beach.' I found it interesting to read of the enactment of these strict, now quite archaic, laws on gender segregation that existed at that time. Leading on from this, in the book The Bolter (story of the life of Lady Idina Sackville), by Frances Osborne, I read: 'By the time Idina was three [1896], Muriel [her mother] was pushing the boundaries of traditional society by opening Britain's first mixed sea-bathing area at Bexhill; hitherto men and women had been separated not just by balloonesque bathing dresses and machines, but beaches too.' Thereby, it's interesting to note, that here, in the date of this photo, we're witnessing the very time in which these restrictive bathing practises were in their last throes.

Added 11 December 2017


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