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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

Sea Bathing

In the early 19th Century sea bathing became fashionable for  its supposed health giving properties. By the 1840s there were  two bathing establishments at Dover, situated between  Waterloo Crescent and Marine Parade on the Seafront. Here  patrons could bathe in baths filled with hot or cold sea water. For the more adventurous souls there was always the sea itself. Bathing machines were used by Victorian ladies to preserve  their modesty, even though they went into the sea in  voluminous bathing costumes. The bathing machines were little  huts on wheels. The lady changed into her bathing costume in  the hut, which was then wheeled down into the sea, where the  lady could descend the steps straight into the water. In 1878 new swimming baths and the old baths demolished to  make way for the Granville Gardens. This new establishment  was situated at the far end of Marine Parade.  It had a large  swimming bath in the basement and a second bath was added  a few years later to cope with demand. Both baths were filled  with sea water. On the second floor there were private baths  and baths for medical purposes.   In the 1920s and 30s there was a bathing station on the beach  with changing cubicles.  Those bathers who could not afford the cost of the hire continued that time honoured British tradition of struggling out of a wet bathing costume under a towel while  trying to preserve modesty. During the Second World War the old swimming baths were  destroyed and the residents of Dover had to wait until the  opening of the new swimming pool in 1972.  
Promenade and Beach c.1900. Bathing machines on the beach in the early 20th Century. The bathing station on the beach c.1930.