penguinContinuing my perusal of the Annals of Aberdeen (see past various blogs), partly because they provide an antidote to the boredom of lockdown, but mainly because they are really interesting and entertaining, I came across a section entitled “Of Sea Bathing.”

Now, as someone who was (pre-Covid) an enthusiastic scuba diver, this really was fascinating.  Today, if you Google “swimming in Aberdeen” you get the usual list of swimming pools.  Add in the word “sea” and you get a number of links, including this one, which points out that the sea temperature off Aberdeen varies from 6.5C in March to 13.9C in August and is, in their opinion, “Freezing” in every month of the year!  In the 18th century they were made of sterner stuff, with the Annals claiming, “No place in the kingdom affords more excellent accommodation for sea bathing than Aberdeen.  There is a fine flat sandy beach within less than a mile of the cross; and bathing machines, which may be had for a moderate charge, are constantly on the spot. In the summer months they are in frequent employment. There are also warm salt-water baths erected close upon the shore, neatly fitted up with every accommodation. Besides these, commodious bathing rooms have lately been made out upon the quay, for invalids, and others, who may prefer them to the open beach; and at all seasons, either the warm or cold salt-water baths can be had.   About forty years ago, a very neat house was erected upon the east side of the Denburn, and fitted up with four bathing rooms, for the use of the citizens. The baths are supplied with pure spring water, conducted to the house by leaden pipes.  The charge for this convenience is moderate; but since the establishment of bathing machines upon the sea beach, few people avail themselves of this bath, the salt water being generally preferred.

Although we currently can avail ourselves of socially distanced swimming indoors, I wonder if this revelation of our sturdy forebears’ tolerance of sea temperatures will lead to a rush of enthusiasm for the outdoor variety.  Given that winter is coming up fast, I doubt it…

Julie Skinner, Resourcing and Benefits Specialist, RGU