The history of our beloved beach huts is more extensive than you may think. Many people think that they were first invented in the Victorian era but they have, in fact, been around a lot longer than that. Here's a brief history of the beach hut for those that live by the sea and those that wish they did.
In the 1700s, doctors began to prescribe the cold sea water as a cure for multiple illnesses. This saw people travel to the seaside to remedy themselves and they’d often bring their families with them. Before then, the sea was a place for fishermen and smugglers. This new interest from the general public in visiting the seaside led to the development of different types of entertainment and accommodation in the areas surrounding beaches. The first type of beach hut was designed around this time and was referred to as a bathing machine. Bathing machines were similar to the beach huts we know today but they were portable and horse drawn! They served the purpose of taking one person at a time from the top of the beach right down to the sea water, allowing them to use their travelling time to get unchanged before submerging themselves into the sea, naked. They would be assisted by people known as ‘dippers’. If this isn’t funny enough, there was an infamous scene involving a bathing machine and King George III in 1789. George III, well known for having an illness called porphyria, approved of the new sea swimming fashion and took a trip to Weymouth to have medicinal bath and plunged himself into the water to the musical accompaniment of ‘God Save the King’.
So, when Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, swimming in the sea and bathing machines were already all the rage. Men’s bathing machines were initially kept separate from females but by the 1900s, the British wanted to be just like the rest of Europe and most of America and bathe with the opposite sex. As it became much more acceptable for people to walk along the beach in their swimwear, the bathing machines lost their function but were transformed into changing huts which stayed on the shore instead. Thus, the beach hut was born. Despite beaches being largely unusable during both world wars, the seaside remained as popular as ever in the interwar-period and the public’s love for swimming in the sea came back stronger than ever as soon as WW2 ended. So many images from 1950s feature beach hut and the demand for them has ceased to fall since then. Becoming an owner of one involves a very long waiting list and a large sum.
In Brighton and Hove, there are over 540 beach huts. In 1980, they cost around £100 but now, they start at £25,000! At Jin Designs, we’ve made it much easier for you to have your very own beach huts. Our collection of illustrated beach hut designs are available on mugs
, check them out here