Victorian Weymouth; sea bathing, from starkers to stilettos….

I had previously written about the habit of nude sea bathing in places like Weymouth during the Victorian era, but thought as it was summer,

P1420032and the Weymouth beach packed with locals and visitors during what has been a lovely season weather wise so far, it might be a chance to share some of the rather tongue in cheek correspondence from that Victorian era that appeared in the local press.

To the Editor of the Southern Times
SIR- Would you allow me, through the friendly medium of your columns, to expose a grievance which I, a lone lorn female, and other members of my sex, suffer daily in this place! I will first state that I had been recommended to try sea bathing at Weymouth for the benefit of my health.


I have tried it, and now wish to relate my sad experience thereof. You may judge of my horror when stepping from my machine to find myself surrounded by great fat men, with nothing on but their whiskers!

In the name of all public decorum should this be allowed? We laugh at the manner and custom of foreigners, but would such a thing be allowed for one moment on the Continent?


Not only should no gentlemen’s bathing machines be permitted to be within 400 yards of those allotted to the ladies, instead of being less than 20, as they now are, but in my humble opinion the mermaids of the opposite sex should not deport themselves at all anywhere in the vicinity of the Esplanade after seven o’clock a.m.

Should the authorities decline to take any steps in what I now consider to be a flagrant breach of public decency, I must appeal to the gentlemen themselves and their own sense of delicacy, and so live in hopes of seeing them “clothed and in their right mind.” Apologies for my lengthy letter, for which I hope my not unnatural indignation may plead my excuse.
I am, Sir, yours hopefully,

But one of those ‘bewhiskered’ gentlemen wasn’t going to let the outraged lady have it all her own way, rather tongue in cheek he penned his rather droll reply; –


letter Civic Society. 1
To the Editor of the “Southern Times.”
Will you give the smallest space
To this communication,
In answer to the Spin. Indig.
And her untrue narration?

I am a shy and nervous man,
A timid modest youth;
Now hear my statement of the fact,
Which really is the truth.

An “Outrages Spinster” may be sure
It is no fun for me
To be mixed up in company
Along with such as she.

I pays my money for a bathe,
But cannot take my choice;
If they would change our bathing-place
I should for one rejoice.

letter Civic Society.

I cannot bathe from off the beach,
The shingle hurts my toes,
And nasty little dirty boys
Are sure to steal my clothes.

If our bathing close to them
So much their ire arouses!
Why do they always stare at us
With glasses from their houses?

And why do the ladies always choose
The early hours? They know
That this is the time we ill-used men
Are always sure to go.

I know they’ve often shocked me, too,
And, what is much more wuss,
I’ve seen them bathe without their clothes;
Then wherefore all this fuss?

Now “Outraged Spinster” bathe at eight,
And choose for your machine
One from the men’s the furthest off
Where you cannot be seen.

Now don’t be riled, my aged one!
For aged you must be!!
But let us hope our joint complaint
May rouse the powers that be.

As time progressed, and sensibilities changed so did the the costumes worn by sea bathers…

A family group in the 20’s taking the sea at Weymouth beach. Good old Grandad, trousers rolled to the knee, and hat still firmly in place!

The costumes might well have contained more fabric in the sense of  covering from the female form from neck to thigh…but they certainly didn’t seem to shy away from sheerness!

swimmer beach

Only 20 odd years later, and this rather poignant photo graced the local holiday guide, months before WWII broke out and Weymouth’s beach was covered not with bathing beauties and happy families but  fearsome razor wire and anti tank blocks .

Nothe gardens 6

Moving on up to the more recent times (for some of us!) immaculately groomed bouffant haired ladies posing with their particularly pert breasts and dainty stilettos.

B&Q receipt Xmas tree.

I wonder what the Victorians would have made of todays fashions on the beach?


A short but fascinating clip about seaside Weymouth of the past, from the Victorians to the 50’s.



Writing a blog, short stories  or your own family history, bring them to life with historical graphics.

Check out my Etsy site for Victorian illustrations, many local ones being added all the time from my own personal collection.

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