Swimsuits which would not get you arrested at Portsmouth’s lido

This rather dramatic photograph of two women being arrested was taken in Chicago, 1922. Dressed in what would look to us like very conservative swimwear today, the women were being arrested for defying a ban on wearing their 'brief swimsuits' in public. PPP-150729-163403001
This rather dramatic photograph of two women being arrested was taken in Chicago, 1922. Dressed in what would look to us like very conservative swimwear today, the women were being arrested for defying a ban on wearing their 'brief swimsuits' in public. PPP-150729-163403001
The Oliver Twist, Old Commercial Road, Portsmouth  - a stone's throw from the Charles Dickens Museum.

THIS WEEK IN 1978: Oliver Twist pub dispute settles

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Heavens only knows what they would have made of the itsy-bitsy scraps of material which comprise, just, bikinis today.

In the 1920s and ’30s in puritanical America, women were arrested for wearing their ‘brief swimsuits’ in public – as my picture on the right shows.

Atlantic City, New Jersey, about 1930 and a beach 'ranger' with one of the strangest jobs imaginable ' measuring the amount of exposed flesh between knee and hemline on a bathing suit

Atlantic City, New Jersey, about 1930 and a beach 'ranger' with one of the strangest jobs imaginable ' measuring the amount of exposed flesh between knee and hemline on a bathing suit

But in Britain, and Portsmouth in particular in 1935, we were far more liberal.

That was the year, 80 years ago this month, that Hilsea Lido opened.

Lido historian Jane Smith sent me the advertisement, below, from The Evening News from Landport Drapery Bazaar in Commercial Road published on July 29, five days after the opening.

According to the ad, Hilsea was just the place for ‘a smart swim suit’, whether you were a ‘lazy lounger’ or an ‘active sprightly holiday-maker’. There were heavy quality pure wool bathing costumes, bathing helmets, beach wraps in ‘gay towelling’, beach coats to ‘brighten up the shore’, and a ‘Happicoat’ or dressing gown accompanied by rubber bathing shoes. Fashionable colours were orange, green, wine, royal, scarlet, jade and cascade. What on earth was cascade?

The LDB advertisement from The Evening News in 1935 to coincide with the opening of Hilsea Lido PPP-150729-141453001

The LDB advertisement from The Evening News in 1935 to coincide with the opening of Hilsea Lido PPP-150729-141453001

As for the prices, several were expressed in shillings, pence and farthings. There was no mention of the halfpenny. What would they be worth today? Two shillings, eleven pence three farthings for example, would be worth about £5.39. The thought of being given single farthings in change seems incredible now.