'Bathing Belles' in Llandudno

Scope and Content

The first bathing machines in Llandudno were owned by a Richard Hughes in 1855; it took a further 13 years before the Improvement Commissioners introduced Bye-Laws against nude bathing.

A bathing machine was a horse-drawn changing room which the user would enter on dry land and leave, holding ten yards of safety line, only when it had been placed in sufficient depth of water 'to prevent the bather or bathers therefrom indecently exposing his/her or their person or persons'. When the user, charged 6d. (two and a half pence) for forty minutes, had swum enough, he would re-enter the machine and wave a flag through a hole in the roof as a signal to be hauled up the beach.

The machine had to operate within two clearly defined areas, from St. George's Hotel to Clonmel Street being the ladies bathing ground, after which 150 yards of forbidden territory led to the gentleman's bathing ground which commenced in the vicinity of what is now the Imperial Hotel and terminated at the eastern end of Mostyn Crescent.

In 1868 the Commissioner's introduced new Bye-Laws for bathing making it an offence for a man to bathe without an apron or drawers. At the same time, the ladies bathing ground was extended making 200 yards of territory separating the grounds and 'any gentleman who shall bathe with 200 yards of the ladies bathing ground or any lady who shall bathe within 200 yards of the gentleman's bathing ground shall forfeit a sum not exceeding 40 shillings', stated the new Bye-Laws. However, by 1894, before handing over to the new Urban Council, the Commissioners resolved to allow mixed bathing.

Bathing machines were finally done away with in Llandudno during the 1950s.

Original Index No. D0899.