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Life's a Beach,
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This review is from: Beach Huts and Bathing Machines (Shire Library) (Paperback)
In the same series as Lynn Pearson's book on the development of the seaside pier, Kathryn Ferry's look at early bathing machines and beach huts is surprisingly in depth considering the publication is a mere 64 pages, which includes a plethora of photos. I've often cycled past those on the north Kent coast and wondered how long such things have been around but didn't realise they're getting on for 300 years old.
This book may appear to favour the south coast but the reason behind that is simple; the coastline from Norfolk round to Devon had the majority of beach huts. (There are a few resorts dotted around Scotland and Wales that have such things.) From 1721, and the earliest reference to something resembling a bathing machine, through to the 21st Century and some modern examples, Ferry manages to not only bring back those hazy memories of days spent on the beach at Minnis Bay or somewhere, but also leaves the reader wondering what it would have been like in an earlier age.
You can see the changing face of seaside `accommodation' in the design of the ubiquitous beach hut along with the change in fashion. The photos show how much people used to view a trip to the seaside as an excursion and dressed accordingly. In fact, judging by some of the photographs here, many men used to wear a collar and tie whilst lounging in a deckchair until fairly recently. (Topless bathing isn't a recent fad either; men used to bathe naked.)
Yes, this book might be short (and the number of pages seems to be the default amount from this publisher) but what's inside is a complete delight. Right, I'm off to see the amazing red and white striped hut at Tankerton, Kent, followed by a trip to the huts on stilts at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk.