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Showing posts from June, 2024

‘Coloured drawers from waist to knees!’

When gentlemen bathing naked was discussed at a Weymouth Town Council meeting in May 1860, Alderman Ayling reckoned the culprits should be horsewhipped. The bathing machines, it was suggested, had been placed too close to the promenade creating this indecency. The machines were essentially mobile changing rooms. Locals paid six pence (2.5p) for their use but visitors were charged nine pence (4p). Railway excursionists from Bath and Bristol were blamed for rendering this nuisance to be increasingly offensive. Apparently, both in France and in Brighton, male bathers were required to wear ‘coloured drawers from the waist to the knees’ so it was reckoned that this regulation should be introduced at Weymouth.  It was proposed that the bathing machine proprietors should provide several coloured drawers and a fine of two shillings and sixpence (12.5p) imposed for each offence. As dresses were provided for women, it was reckoned that something broadly similar should  be provided for men. (Sour


Weymouth was once referred to as ‘Swindon-on-Sea’. For it was a favourite holiday destination for workers at the giant Great Western Railway’s Swindon Works. The Works was completed in 1843 and at its peak employed some 14,000 people. Arrival of the railway at Weymouth in 1857 would breathe fresh life into the town as a holiday resort. It also saw the town’s population double by 1914. Known as ‘Swindon Week’, the railway maintenance complex would close in July and thousands would cram the platforms of Swindon station in their Sunday best. Many local businesses would also  temporarily close as Swindon became a ghost town. Every year, some five or six thousand workers would travel to the Dorset seaside resort. There were other possible destinations in  the Great Western Railway’s network including to London. The event would become affectionately known as the ‘trip’. For the better off and more adventurous there was the prospect of crossing the English Channel from Weymouth to Cherbourg i