The Lure of The Beach – Jo Jenkinson, Brighton Historical Society

Over the last two years Jo Jenkinson has quietly but doggedly worked away on her new book ‘The Lure of The Beach’ a history of sea bathing in Brighton.

Published with the aid of a Local History Grant from The Victorian State Government, it relates stories including the days of the early horse drawn bathing machines, debates over decency on the beach,  competitive and leisure swimming at Brighton and most popularly the brightly coloured bathing boxes that dot the shoreline.

For the launch of the book Di Reidie, society president and I, had a delightful time digging through the archives finding vintage gems to display. Sadly, many of the best fashion gems did not make it to the floor, as it was preferable to include as many items with provenance as possible, as well as limited time, and mannequins. However, having had a chance to familiarize myself with some of the wonderful pieces, from circa 1900 until the late 1980’s, I would love to be able to put together a proper more exhaustive exhibition.

If your looking for swimsuit inspiration, make sure you make an appointment to visit the collection.

Copies of The Lure of The Beach are available directly from Brighton Historical Society or from selected bookstores. (hint – particularly in Brighton). See the website below for opening hours.

bathers 2 high res

Bathing Costume details

Collage One (Top of page), from left to right:

1920’s swimsuit. Black Wool with lace up front and cross over back straps. Worn by Jessie Dell of Hampton. Donated by Merilyn Case.

1960’s Watersun swimsuit and white rubber bathing cap. Blue bri-nylon with built in bra. Worn by Katherine Blair of Brighton. Donated by Katherine Blair.

1970’s Watersun gold lame swimsuit with matching cape. Made in Australia.

Circa 1900 black cotton two piece swimsuit.

1930’s Black Lance swimsuit. Blue ribbed wool with cross over and tie up back straps. Worn by Dorothy Wells of East Brighton. Donated by Dr. William and Helen Wells.

Circa 1970’s black and silver lurex swimsuit and cover up.

Collage Two, left to right:

Circa 1960’s red and white striped bathing cap, bathing bra and trunks

Circa 1970’s Watersun three piece green cotton beach ensemble including embroidered skirt, bolero top and swim bra.

Circa 1970’s black and white zebra print two piece swimsuit.

Circa 1970’s turquoise hounds tooth two piece swimsuit

1940’s Cotton multi coloured floral beach play suit. Worn by Jean Jennings. Donated by Nola Jennings.

Circa 1970’s multi coloured two piece swimsuit.





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