Monday, 10 January 2011


In the July./August 1969 edition of ‘Devon Life’ a Mr Roland Richardson wrote about Budleigh Salterton. His article is entitled ‘Eighty Years On’. He remembers seeing the bathing machines on the beach in his early years which would have been well before the turn of the century.

“The beach has altered little, indeed if at all, except for the manner in which those enjoying themselves there have changed. In my youth people coming down to bathe disappeared as soon as they reached the beach, fully dressed, into the shelter of the curious hutments on wheels, painted in blue and white stripes. I never remember seeing these “bathing machines”, as they were known, actually driven down to the water, which no doubt had originally been the procedure, but after the disappearance of the bather, carrying the appropriate roll of towels, he or she would presently emerge, heavily clad in dark navy apparel, to bob up and down in the waves a few times before climbing back again into the shelter of the machine to redress. There indeed is a change from the beach of today with its throng of near naked sunbathers, the more venturesome swimmers boldly striking out for the diving raft moored at a convenient distance from the shore.

How astonished, and not a little shocked, my mother would have been, sitting on the pebbles dressed in her “neat blouse” with stiff collar and cuffs, her long serge skirt well down to her ankles and on her head a hard wide-brimmed “boater”, as she kept an eye on me while I paddled, and saw that I did not venture far enough for the water to wet my rolled up serge knickers.”

In the same article Mr Richardson quotes a ‘West country poet describing the red cliffs of East Devon as being like “anchovy sauce spread upon toast.’ Who was this poet? Does anybody out there know?

More on bathing machines.


  1. Who was this poet?

    RHD Barham, and the quotation is from his The Monk of Haldon: A Legend of South Devon (c. 1867).

    "To the right, under Haldon,
    Lie Teignmouth and Shaldon,
    With hamlets, whose names to recount I'm not called on:
    Between them the Teign rolls her eddying flood,
    The stream looking tinted and turbid with blood;
    But it's only the rain that has stirred up the mud!
    It's certainly odd that this part of the coast,
    While neighbouring Dorset gleams white as a ghost,
    Should look like anchovy sauce spread upon toast!"

  2. Thanks for the Barham quotation, which I'll pass on to Cyril Shere who is giving a talk about the Triassic Coast on Monday 17 Jan 2011 in Budleigh Salterton. See