Galveston history: Why you would never see women at the beach during the Victorian era

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HOUSTON – A fun guessing game turned into an interesting history lesson when a Galveston museum revealed the purpose behind bathing machines used in the during the Georgian or Victorian eras.

According to The Bryan Museum, bathing machines were used to offer Georgian or Victorian women privacy to undress as well as a dry place for swimmers to keep their belongings.

Swimmers would enter the bathing machines on one side while it was parked ashore and then it would be rolled into the ocean and the women would exist on the opposite side in order to not be seen in their swimwear.

At some locations, there were female attendants known as dippers who could help women out of the bathing machines and into the water.

Dippers also kept an eye to make sure women were not drowning as their wet clothes could easily add 20 or more pounds of weight, according to the museum.

Just as they came, women would travel back to shore in the bathing machine and get redressed in private.

According to an article on the subject by Messy Nessy Chic, the use of bathing machines diminished during the 1920s.


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