In Hoek van Holland, a wooden bathing carriage that is more than a hundred years old was hoisted from a backyard this week. The bathing carriage stood there for decades, but will soon be given a place in Museum Rotterdam. According to the Hoek van Holland Historical Society, the vehicle is one of the last remaining bathing carriages.
A badkoets is a wooden cart with wheels that could be found along the coasts of England, Belgium and the Netherlands in the 19th century and early 20th century. Bathers, mainly women, could change clothes in the carriages. Near the sea they then got out of the car unseen.
The bathing carriage was in Piet Heijstek’s backyard. “I believe it has been there for 40 years,” he tells local broadcaster WOS. The bathing carriage comes from a time when women were not allowed to change in public, says Heijstek. “They then neatly went into the bathing coach, where they changed.”
The carriage was then driven to the sea by a lifeguard using horses. There the carriage was driven into the water with the back facing the sea, where the women could get out. “Because imagine that the legs were seen by other men,” says Heijstek.
Last bathing carriage hidden in the backyard of Hoek van Holland
Many bathing carriages were lost during the Second World War, but Heijstek’s copy has been preserved. According to Mir Visser of the Hoek van Holland Historical Society, it is a special object. “It’s a tangible relic of beach life and pre-war prudishness.”
The coach has been transferred to a restoration company in Delft, where it will be taken care of in the near future, reports regional broadcaster Rijnmond. Because the carriage has been in the garden for years, the car needs a major overhaul.
“Now the carriage is going to our workshop to see what we need to do to get it stable,” says Paul Schulten of the restoration company. “We want to keep it intact as much as possible.”
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