Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Bathing on beaches was not allowed in the 19th century into the 20th century, unless at sea baths. The sea baths were sex segregated.
In the men's area of the baths, back in the 1884, there were complaints about excessive and un-warranted nudity. I suspect that is code for something.
1922 saw more complaints, probably about men again, for night basking on the beach and lewd behaviour.
1926, the baths burnt and were reconstructed by 1928.
We slip a little south to Middle Brighton Pier, where in 1930 many people watch a young man get killed by a shark. Women fainted as they watched the carnage and had to be given stimulants.
Meanwhile back at the Sea Baths, in the 1930s men started rolling down their upper body straps and walking the streets in their swimming costumes and being prosecuted for such brazenness.
1945, an army chap died after being stabbed in the heart by a stingray.
In 1980 the shark net was removed from around the Baths and nightclubs proliferated at the Sea Baths. I think I once went to one called Bojangles. Ah, perhaps Hilliers too, run by dykon Jan Hillier.
I visited the baths only once and was very clearly a gay cruising area. There was a walkway deck around the swimming area. It was very shabby. You went on to great things, Mr Fairfax Press executive. You seemed so shy and sweet.
In 1991 tenders were called for the reconstruction of the baths, with the winning tender announced in 1992, awarded to a company called Zarawaters.
1993 saw the baths close for good and demolished in 1995. Some sections were retained to be incorporated into the new design.
The public hated the new building and judged it too big and too bulky. Developer Hannah Friedman appeared frequently in the media, defending the building as construction fitfully proceeded.
By 1998, Zarawaters was in receivership with a new developer chosen in 1999. As per the agreement with the new developer, some of the worst aspects of the redevelopment were demolished.
In 2001, the new Sea Baths opened. I judge it to be reasonably inoffensive.
I understand that St Kilda Sea Baths and Hepburn Spa (mineral) are connected.