The ‘Now and Then’ column with Aled Jones: A postcard featuring a vintage Bridlington bathing scene

Regular contributor Aled Jones has created another ‘now and then’ photo comparison for the Bridlington Free Press readers to enjoy.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 11:02 pm
The seafront area as it looks today.

Mr Jones, who collects vintage postcards, has this time focused on the Victoria Terraces area of the seafront and has captured a modern day scene at the site.

The sepia postcard, which was mailed in 1912 to an address in Halifax, shows a ‘men only area’ for bathing.

Mr Jones said: “When it came to bathing at the seaside the Victorians and Edwardians were a notoriously strict bunch.

“Their rules of bathing etiquette, however, only largely applied to female beachgoers, since the menfolk were permitted much greater freedom.

“If you were a woman and wanted to have a swim in the sea you needed to hire, at considerable cost, a bathing machine, or van, to keep your body out of sight.

“It was a social tradition that continued into the early 20th century.

“Nevertheless, by 1901 it was made legal for both genders to bathe together, but this was only at specific times and on specific areas of the beach.

“By the late Edwardian era bathing without vans was only allowed on three designated areas of the beach, one for men only, one for women only and one for mixed bathing, and even then it was all restricted to before 8am.

“So, unless you were an early riser, a swim in the sea was totally forbidden!

“This faded, but highly evocative, vintage sepia postcard exhibits the “men only” area for bathing at Bridlington, specifically the Victoria Terraces. The male holidaymakers would turn up in droves here each morning from daybreak to 8am to enjoy a nice dip in the sea. Quite a bracing experience!

“If this scene is anything to go by, it’s perhaps unsurprising that no Edwardian ladies appear to feature in the postcard.

“The postcard was mailed on August 1, 1912 to a Mrs Mountain at an address in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

“The sender whimsically wrote ‘You will see what it is like in the photo every morning before 8am but we are not among them’.

“The modern photographic replication, when compared with the vintage postcard, shows just how structurally unaltered the Victoria Terraces (opened 1906) are.

“It is Prince’s Parade and the hHarbour in the background which have changed so dramatically, respectively losing the Grand Pavilion in 1936 and the mock-Gothic Victoria Rooms to fire in 1933.

“Of course, the Victoria Terraces are now majestically overlooked by the Leisure World complex, so quite a spectacular change there.”