“Making a Splash”

By | Category: Travel rumblings

This is the name of a new exhibition opening tomorrow in the Ceredigion Museum in the seaside-cum-university town of Aberystwyth in Mid-Wales.

“Making a Splash” is an exhibition about our centuries old fondness for the seaside. The museum staff have found those “wild and wonderful” (the museum’s words; definitely not mine) knitted swimming costumes some of us use to wear. (My, they were itchy. And they shrank and tightened around you leaving red marks after you had struggled out of them) as well as the bloomers and bikinis that our grandparents and parents wore to soak up the surf and sun.

The museum appealed for images of seaside holidays and have included some of these in the display too. ‘Making a Splash’ runs from July 14 to October 13 as part of ‘The Year of the Sea’ theme in Wales.

The area has attracted visitors from far and wide since it first became known as the Brighton of Wales in the 1790s. By 1807, there were four bathing machines recorded as being situated on the north beach at Aberystwyth. These were wooden structures, like sheds on wheels, from which people could go bathing. By the middle of the 1820s, there were 21 of these machines.

By the time the train came to the coast in the 1860s sea bathing and the idea of taking a holiday, away from work and home, was very popular. It was also believed that sea bathing was good for your health.

The seaside holiday is a significant story in our history. Each of our countries has favoured spots which still attract people. The Donald McGill postcards are typical of an age yet how many exhibitions or galleries chronicle this tourism history? Thankfully the museum named in his honour is at a  a typical seaside destination – Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

The Ceredigon Museum should be thanked for reminding us what many might consider to be a bygone age. And the rail posters exhorting us to visit various destinations are a great deal more appealing than modern ones as well!

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