With the summer now in full swing we can’t help but daydream of long days spent by the seaside relaxing with a picnic and a good book. We take a look at one of the most iconic British seaside characters – the humble Beach Hut.
History of Beach Huts
The history of beach huts goes back a couple centuries to a time when wealthy visitors to the seaside used what they called 'bathing boxes'. The use of these bathing boxes peaked in the Victorian era as the British love affair with the seaside resort boomed.
Early seaside goers would have hired their boxes for half an hour to allow them to change into their bathing costumes. They would have then been wheeled or slid down into the water, some by hand but others by a pair of horses and a driver. The seaside tourist would then emerge directly into the sea to undergo their ‘sea water cure’.
During this period bathing boxes are known to have existed not only in England but also on the beaches of France, Italy and Australia.
They continued to preserve the modesty of several generations until it became socially acceptable to walk across the beach in a bathing costume. It is thought that redundant bathing boxes were then left on the beaches to become what we now call a beach hut. It is from this time that seaside visitors started to use the huts for purposes other than changing, such as for storing items and as a place to sit out of the sun.
During the inter-war years many modern blocks of huts and chalets were built when sunbathing became all the fashion. However, interest in beach huts waned during the latter half of the 20th century, as it became more fashionable to holiday abroad, but this wasn’t to last forever as these humble beach huts are now more popular than they have ever been.
The seaside resort of Scarborough is very proud of their colourful array of huts
Beach Huts Today
Nowadays brightly coloured beach huts are an essential part of the British seaside along with ice creams, fish and chips and the unreliable British weather!
Whilst they are generally in very short supply, there are only about 20,000 beach huts in the UK, modern huts (of a sort) are still being built today. For example, at Poole there is a project to build 86 new beach huts on two storeys at a cost of £1.35m. The plan is that these beach huts will then be available to local residents for annual leases.
It’s Ironic that demand is so high,in this modern day, for such low-tech seaside getaways. Most huts are very basic and many come without hot water, electricity and you aren’t allowed to stay overnight in them. However, this simplicity may explain the appeal – a simple stove is all many require, allowing them to enjoy their traditional British afternoon cup of tea.
Beach huts are even popular with the likes of celebrities including Rolling Stone Keith Richards, crime writer PD James, chef Aldo Zilli and Madness frontman Suggs.
Your own Beach Hut
If you want your very own slice of this British seaside tradition you will mostly likely to need to join a waiting list, but be aware the waiting times in some places can exceed a decade so you may need to be patient.
If you are looking to buy a beach hut, some of the more popular spots can see staggering sale prices in excess of £200,000, such as Mudeford Spit, Dorset. But there are still places along our coastline where a beach hut can be acquired for slightly less eye-watering prices, with typical prices ranging from £6,000 to £35,000.
These huge sums really say something about just how popular the humble beach hut has become.
And whilst buying your very own beach hut could cost you as much as new home, there is a more affordable option – renting a beach hut. You can rent beach huts by the day or week from as little as £25.
Inspired by Pastel Beach Huts
We put together a quick mood board of a few favourite products inspired by the traditional beach hut look
- Murrayfield Chair in Warwick Lucky Harissa
- Scatter Cushion in Ian Mankin Jura Stripe
- Bolster Cushion in Harlequin Plateau
- Scatter Cushion in Linwood Clever Linen
- Imogen Chair in Sanderson Swallows
- Atlas Medium Sofa in Monsoon Chiante Blush
- Venice Chair in Monsoon Sadie Powder
- Scatter Cushion in Zuma Sky
- Scatter Cushion in Linwood Drummond Calavie
- Farmhouse Jug
- Cube Footstool in Linwood Drummond Fionn