It’s July! It’s time to head to the seaside!
Historic England’s tourism history expert Allan Brodie has dipped into the Archive and come up with a handy list of things to pack for your holiday.
1. Bathing costume – optional.
Optional if you were a man in the 18th century or a naturist today! Men originally bathed in the nude, while women wore linen slips that clung to their bodies when wet. Therefore, in the 18th century men and women bathed separately, either on different sections of the beach or at different times during the morning.
2. Beach Tent
Today we have a wide choice of pop-up tents in which to store valuables, keep sand and water at bay from our phones and change our children into their swimming costumes. By the 1930s many beaches had changing tents to rent, taking the place of bathing machines after World War I.
3. Tea bags
If you own or rent a beach hut, it’s the perfect place to make a cuppa and relax after a hectic morning on the beach. Beach huts are the modern successor to the bathing machine and originally some may have once been these cumbersome contraptions with their wheels removed.
4. Cricket bat
After a busy morning in the sea, the beach is an ideal place for a bit of football or cricket, the quintessential summer game. Behind the expectant batsman is the wicket-keeper with young fielders on the boundary and an adult audience.
5. Bucket and spade
No holiday would be complete without a major construction project. And the key to success is a bucket and spade and a willing workforce. Could any parent resist the temptation to recreate the architecture of Bamburgh Castle.
Since the 1890s the deckchair has been an icon of the seaside holiday. Where better to pose for portraits for a budding young photographer. Smile – you’re on holiday!
7. Sun hat
The well-dressed man on a post-war Blackpool’s beach might stick with his flat cap or be forced to resort to a handkerchief on a hot day. Today, pack a baseball cap or pick up a kiss me quick hat when you arrive at the seaside.
8. Beach umbrella
Today a large brolly can offer respite from the hot sun. But a parasol was indispensable to Victorian and Edwardian ladies in an era when a suntan suggested outdoor, manual labour rather than affluence and Mediterranean holidays.
9. Model boat
A paddling pool is still the perfect antidote to a crashing sea or a crowded beach. Pond yachts have appealed to children of all ages and some patient and skilful enthusiasts recreate old battleships and even submarines.
Hard-working donkeys deserve a treat after a long day’s work. This obedient line of animals, their jockeys, and one supportive mum have dutifully posed for the portrait without a handler in sight.
So what else do we need?
A few beers
No traffic on the roads
Allan will be lazing around Weston-super-Mare this summer, in the name of research of course. Find out more about the new Heritage Action Zone at Weston here.
What are your favourite memories of the beach?
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