Project Description

Girls in beach pyjamas at bathing boxes on Suttons Beach.

It might surprise some people to know that in times past bathing boxes were erected on Redcliffe’s beaches.  The idea of bathing boxes originated in the late 1800s when mixed bathing on popular beaches became fashionable. Victorian society dictated a modest approach to public bathing where areas of public beaches were set aside, one for women and children and the other for men.

In 1873 the residents of Sandgate passed a resolution at a public meeting to provide separate bathing places at Sandgate for each sex.  It was about this time that the excursion boats were just beginning to venture to the Redcliffe Peninsula with people eager to enjoy a beach outing and by 1888, separate bathing areas had been allocated at Redcliffe for men and women.

While the local hotels and boarding houses had erected bathing sheds for their visitors, and many private bathing sheds had been erected on most of the beaches, by 1912 there were still no public bathing houses on the peninsula.  A letter to the Brisbane Courier from a visitor about that time suggested that council should erect a bathing booth which would serve as both a changing room and kiosk.  A later letter in 1918 shows that some attempt has been made by council advising that a small building resembling a stable had been erected for the ladies.

Repeated attempts by local progress associations to lobby for improved conveniences in the 1920s resulted in the Mayor himself, James Johnston, investigating the situation and discovering that there were 251 sheds along the beach from Clontarf to Scarborough, many of which were in poor repair.

It wasn’t until Christmas 1933 that the Courier Mail reported that: “Sutton’s Beach has undergone a wonderful change. Two large concrete bathing boxes have been erected. The whole of the beach has been levelled and turfed.”

However private bathing sheds were still in use and remained so for many years with about 25 cluttering up the beach, according to the then Town Clerk, J C Pearson, in December 1950. Bathing boxes had finally disappeared by the 1960s.

Pat Gee for History Redcliffe