"She is the daughter of old Tom Bellamy, who owns all the boats and bathing-cots at Fulworth. He was a fisherman to start with, but is now a man of some substance. He and his son William run the business." - LION
Out of all of the things mentioned in the above passage, can you guess which we'll be discussing? Yep. Bathing-cots. What's a bathing-cot, you ask? Well, a very curious item that had its heyday and then just kind of faded away. It also happens to be one of the items mentioned only once in The Canon. Let's take a look at them.
Bathing-cots, also known as bathing-machines, were a fixture at beaches all around England and the world during the very prudish 1800's and early 1900's. Women and men were not to swim (or bathe) together at swimming locales, but with the women's rights movements that was to change. However, even if there were to be co-ed beaches, it still wasn't proper for ladies to be seen in their swimming outfits. So, a compromise had to be reached. Enter the batching-cot. It allowed women to swim at any public beach, but in private. Basically, it worked like this: the ladies entered the bathing-cot, changed into the proper attire, and then an attendant or team of horses would pull or push the carriage into the water. The people inside could enjoy the water, but away from the eyes of everyone.
Other variations included rounded-style main bodies, large canvas chutes on the back that extended to the water so people could actually get out and into the water, but still in privacy, and fenced-in areas.
There are hundreds of photos of these that can be found with a simple internet search. Unfortunately space won't permit me to show them all. Take the time to look at the history and use of these simple machines. It's a fascinating curiosity that isn't given much thought nowadays. Personally, I love finding things like this, and I truly hope I can bring you something just as cool again next month. Til then...