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Archives show city was a first for 'seaside' towns; Bathhouse on the Mersey.

Byline: BY LAURA SHARPE Daily Post Staff

RARE archives dating back to the start of the 18th Century reveal that Liverpool was one of the first "seaside" towns in the country.

Experts from English Heritage who have been tracing the history of seaside resorts have found references to a bathhouse at the Docks suggesting bathing resorts started earlier than previously thought.

The archives date back to 1709 meaning the city could have been the first seaside resort pre-dating Margate the self proclaimed "first seaside town".

Allan Brodie, of English Heritage, said: "There are references to organised visits to Crosby for sea bathing.

"I have also found descriptions of 'bathing wagons' in diaries of Liverpool people which date back to the 1730's.

"This allowed women to enter the sea under a modesty hood so they couldn't be seen.

"This means Liverpool was at the forefront of providing sea water baths around this time."

Mr Brodie travelled across the country to Brighton, Whitby and Scarborough but found the earliest evidence from Merseyside.

He said: "I studied a man called Nicholas Blundell's diaries, he kept a diary everyday for a wealthy landowner living near Crosby between 1702-1728.

"His diary contains references to sea bathing, usually near his home at Crosby, the first dating back to August 5, 1708.

"This day he and Mr Aldred rode to the sea to bathe, but a year later he and his family bathed to help cure a skin disease.

"Back in the early 18th century many people believed the sea could cure illnesses but there are references to bathing first being used for pleasure purposes.

"But on June 28, 1715, there are two references to 'The Bath'.

"There are other references to a bathhouse in Liverpool, a 1708 rate book includes a 'ye baginall' near the custom house which could be a bathing house pre-dating the one Blundell used.

"Blundell also makes reference to August 1, 1721, in which he writes: "Acton lodged here, he came with an intention to stay some time to Baith in the Sea, I went with him to the Sea side to shrew him what Conveniency there was for him, with conveniency meaning bathhouse."

Mr Brodie also examined an engraving by Buck in 1728 which shows a small building which he believes is the original bathhouse. If it were still there, it would stand behind the Liver Building.

Mr Brodie added: "There is still a lot more work to do, you don't think of Liverpool as a seaside town.

Holiday on the Archives will be held at 2pm this Saturday at Southport Arts Centre, Lord Street. Entry is free but tickets are required, to book contact Southport Arts Centre on 01704 540011.

For more stories on Liverpool's history go to www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/heritage

To delve into Merseyside's history go to www.mersey-gateway.org

laurasharpe@dailypost.co.uk

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 13, 2008
Words:489
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