Brighton – A little bit of history about the beach huts

Bathing Machines


In 1923 Matthew Hatton of 32A Brunswick Square suggested to Hove Council that facilities for sea bathing would be greatly improved if the Council were to erect twenty wooden bathing chalets and a pay-box on the beach between the Coastguard Station (south east of Hove Street) and Carlisle Road. The idea was not taken up at the time but by 1930 it was definitely on the agenda.

Bathing machines had once been popular and their heyday and at Hove  in 1884  there were forty-six bathing machines designated for female use and twelve machines reserved for men. Segregated bathing was the rule at Hove and the town was slow to leave the strictures of the Victorian era.  Although mixed bathing was permitted at Brighton from July 1901, Hove had to wait until 1905 for mixed bathing provision and only in designated areas.

In 1925 the Council asked proprietors of bathing machines to fit them with low wheels, half to be done that year and the other half by 1926. But the machines were already losing out to tents because although there were still 54 machines, there were 94 tents. Bathing tents were first mentioned in 1907 when it was stated that mixed bathing from tents was to be allowed on the beach.


Bathing Tents Replaced By Wooden Chalets

Bathing tents did not find favour with everyone and many people thought the rows of flapping canvas was both untidy and unsightly. The more solid construction of a wooden chalet or hut quickly became popular and by 1936 there were no less than 290 of them situated on the promenade from Hove Lagoon to Wish Road, near the newly constructed sea-wall and steps.

Luck Dip

There were many more people wishing to hire huts than there were huts available and so Hove Council hit upon the idea that the fairest way to allocate them was by having a lucky dip system. This began in 1947 and lasted a surprisingly long time.

By 1963 there were 446 huts and the lucky dip system still prevailed. In August 1982 Hove Council invited tenants to buy them at a cost of £100 plus the annual ground rent of £25. But it seems clear some huts were already privately owned. The beach hut was of course nothing but a basic wooden structure with no plumbing or electricity laid on. There were also stringent conditions; you were not allowed to sleep there, run a business or keep animals and if you played music you must not let it be too loud. You must not make any alterations to the exterior although you could paint the doors uniformly in any colour you fancied.

The Gale of 1987

The great gale of 16/17 October 1987 wreaked havoc amongst Hove beach huts. A memorable aerial photograph appeared in the local Press showing Hove Lawns strewn with the wreckage.  Seventy per cent of the huts were destroyed or damaged.


Beach Huts Grow in Popularity (and Price)

Brighton & Hove City Council endeavour to ensure the huts are sold only to people living in the locality. In 1980 a beach hut could be purchased for around £105.00, by 2011 this has risen to £10,500. By 2013 the price of beach huts had risen again. In August 2013 one was on sale for £14,000. There are currently over 530 beach huts on the promenade. In 2015 the council are serving notices to any owners who have not kept up the maintenance of their beach hut.

Currently beach huts are selling for in excess of £20,000….

Beach huts must be well maintained and painted to Brighton & Hove specification, although owners may paint the doors a colour of their own choice.

Beach huts should be painted every year to help protect the wooden Structure.

Beach hut with newly fitted roof and complete re-painting.
Beach hut with newly fitted roof and complete re-painting.