Segregated bathing.

There is a section in “Maritime History of Rhyl and Rhuddlan” by D. W. Harris on bathing which makes amusing reading.

Rules were deemed necessary to govern bathing on the foreshore and the first reference to them appeared in 1852.

An imaginary line was drawn from the top of High Street out to sea and poles were placed to mark it as far as low water mark.  To the west of the line of poles, male bathers could take a dip while to the east, female bathers and children bathed.  From two hours before, to one hour after high water, bathers were strictly segregated.  Anyone infringing the regulations was fined £2 (twice the average weekly wage).  In addition anyone wising to bathe had to hire a bathing machine.  The Board of Commissioners fixed the price at 4d for one person and 3d each for two or more.  Later, in 1865, the Board felt there were still too many loopholes in the act as people were undressing in boats.  As a result, they further decreed no one was allowed to undress in a boat unless he was 400 yards from the shore.

In 1858 Rhyl Commissioners felt boats were getting too near the female bathers and ordered two buoys to be fixed to prevent the boats from plying too near the ladies bathing places.

bathing machines postcard

By 1861 , the position of the bathing places had been reversed, men to the east of High Street and ladies to the west.  To ensure the bathing rules were observed and no-one strayed over the demarcation lines between the sexes, an extra policeman was employed during the summer months to patrol the area.

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Robust local women assisted the more delicate female bathers, and would earn their living in this way during the summer season.  A Mrs Margaret Jones of Bedford Street was one of these women, she must have been extremely hardy as she stood in the sea for long periods “dipping the damsels”.

The ban on mixed bathing was lifted in 1911.

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