Vintage Beach Photos

Circa 1911: A group of female bathers go for an early morning dip in the sea at Scarborough, Yorkshire. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

August 1923: Dancer Miss Eileen Molyneux on the beach at Le Touquet. (Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Here's a selection of vintage beach photos from an article titled Before the Bikini: Rare Vintage Beach Photos. The article is about the origins of beach vacations and how the swimsuit has evolved from the early 1900s to the 1970s.

Beach vacations started as early as the late 1800s after railroads became a viable source of transportation, according to Victoriana Magazine. Swimwear consisted of fully covered gowns and bloomers that revealed very little. Although the sun’s harmful UV rays were an unknown danger at the time, this conservative beachwear would have provided a good deal of protection.

By the early 1900s, beach resorts were becoming a popular destination. But water activities such as swimming and diving were a burden due to the bulky Victorian-style swimsuits, especially for the women, the magazine reports. Thus, by the 1920s, fitted swimwear that modestly conformed to the body became a part of beach fashion. Susan Sessions Rugh, an American history professor at Brigham Young University, points out that as the years passed, swimsuits became smaller and smaller.

“Earlier in the century, the sexes were often segregated on the beach and women were chaperoned, even though today their swimsuits look ridiculously modest,” Rugh said in an interview with “Swimsuits shrunk over the years as new stretch fabrics and manufacturing methods allowed a more form-fitting garment.”

These are my favourite 20 photos from the article, you can see all 359 photos here. I would love to find a series of vintage photos of beach vacations in the Arab world.

July 1924: Mother and child on holiday at Clacton. (Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Circa 1925: Five women at the beach posing in their swimming costumes. (Keystone View/FPG/Getty Images)

Circa 1926: Three women are seen enjoying the Gala at the Thames Resort at Hampton Court. (Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)


Circa 1927: Actress Joan Crawford playing on the beach with fellow star Dorothy Sebastian. (General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

July 1928: Keeping cool in the sea during a heatwave at Bexhill, Kent. (Crouch/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Circa 1929: A group of teenagers enjoy a game of jump rope on the beach. (General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)


Circa 1929: A row women showing off some unusual and original swimwear on the beach. (Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)


May 1934: Members of a life saving club for women in Melbourne, taking part in a display. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

August 1935: Pupils from the International Institute of Margaret Morris Movement practice on the beach at Sandwich on the Kent coast, England. (Reg Speller/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

June 1936: A woman swings a child on the beach at Bridlington, Humberside, England. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

August 1937: Three girls enjoying a game of cricket on the beach at Blackpool, Lancashire. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

August 1938: The table is marked out with rope for a game of beach billiards in Oregon. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)


August 1939: Two vacationers canoeing in the sea at Hastings, Sussex. (John F. Stephenson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Circa 1940: Models playing on a beach wear knitted, one piece, skirted swimsuits and swimcaps. (Chaloner Woods/Getty Images)


Circa 1940: A group of women wearing swimsuits enjoy an ice cream outside a cafe at the seaside. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Circa 1951: Five bathers are seen on a beach. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Circa 1955: A woman is seen in a bathing suit standing near a beach pulling a rope. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Circa 1955: A woman spends her holiday sunbathing on a Yemen beach. (William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

[all images from Before the Bikini: Rare Vintage Beach Photos via]