Summer has well and truly arrived for me when it’s time to get the beach hut ready. I look forward to it every year and I’m sure it’s because it’s just another excuse to play house!
These often brightly coloured little huts can be seen all around the coastal towns of the UK. They are a nostalgic part of our past and an essential party of the British seaside. Beach huts are really having a resurgence.
The idea of visiting the seaside and bathing isn’t a modern Twentieth century phenomenon. George III in 1789 took a medical dip in the waters of Weymouth to a musical accompaniment of ‘God save the King’.
The bathing machine, a hut on wheels, would be horse drawn into the waters and the bather would lower himself into the chilly sea facing the on coming waves in relative privacy.
Queen Victoria had her own contraption which she used at her beloved Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. This was at the time when modesty was everything and there were social rules about keeping male and female bathers in these bathing machines apart.
By the beginning of the Edwardian era pressure was on to change and the intervening years saw the popularity of sunbathing really take off, presumably Coco Chanel had inadvertently invented it when staying in the South of France when she accidentally got burnt but turned her misfortune into a fashion statement and off it went (in briefest terms!)
The bathing machine was losing its use and popularity by this time, so many an entrepreneur realised that the new seaside public needed a hut or tent to change in so off came the wheels and the hut was born.
The British seaside was becoming hugely popular – a change to get away from the towns and cities to take to the water and breathe the fresh air.
By the 1950s the beach hut had reached its height in popularity. The idea of swimming or splashing around, sitting watching the world go by and all washed down with a cup of tea had hit its audience. It is that nostalgia that has brought about its re-emergence in the last 10 years. We seem as a society to have gone back to a simpler way of doing things and enjoy having moments of escapism from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
I took a little hut five years ago for exactly that reason, but little did I know just how addictive it would become and how I would enjoy the days I would spend there.
I’ve been fortunate to meet a wonderful group of people down on the sea front, with huts they have created inside to reflect their personalities and their particular needs.
A small community within a community that during the summer months when the pace of life seems to slow down to a walking pace – we all meet and come together.