Victorian swimming costume

Contributed by Islington Museum

Victorian swimming costume

This red cotton swimming costume was left behind in lost property at Hornsey Road Public Baths, Islington in about 1900.

Many people in Victorian cities lived in crowded tenement buildings without bathrooms or running hot water, so public baths were introduced as a health measure. Hornsey Road Baths was built in 1895 to provide local people with a place to have a private bath, swim and wash their clothes.

Few Londoners knew how to swim before public baths were built, but it was becoming quite a popular sport by 1879, when there were 16 swimming clubs based at London baths. By 1900, school children were being taken to baths to learn to swim.

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