A Cure by Sea Water
By the first decades of the eighteenth century Brighton
was a fishing town is steep decline. Changes in the fishing industry
and in the market for fish, the serious erosion of the shingle beach
which was the centre of fishing operations, and the erosion of the low
cliff on the top of which the town was sited all affected the viability
of the town's economy and contributed to an increase in poverty and unemployment.
A Machine for Sea Bathing
Dr Richard Russell from Lewes came to the rescue of the
town when he set up what today would be called a health clinic. He built
a house right on the seafront on the site roughly where the
Royal Albion hotel stands today. Those seeking a cure for illness had for
many centuries visited the inland spas to drink the waters. Russell treated
his patients with seawater - both drinking it and bathing in it. Swimming
was not a skill much known to the eighteenth century and hence a bathing
machine was invented (possibly in Scarborough) to enable the patient to
undergo the treatment. The bathing machine took care of safety and it also
catered for notions of modesty and decorum.
The Patronage of a Royal Prince
the Prince Regent discovered Brighton and gave it his seal of approval
the town's success as a 'watering place', was henceforth secured - though
recently a local historian has taken the view that Brighton was succeeding
as a new 'pleasure resort' before the Prince's arrival and probably would
have continued to be successful without his patronage.
However, there's no doubting that today the Royal Pavilion is the centre
piece of the city's heritage industry - or is it Brighon Pier?!
A full account of the rise of Brighton as a tourist resort will follow