The UK Beach Hut

The Beach Hut is a common feature above the high water mark at UK beaches, and today the UK has over 20,000 beach huts.

Although nowadays huts are firmly fixed to the ground, their origins are the wheeled bathing machines used throughout the 19th century.

bathing machine photo

Photo at Llandudno, Wales by National Media Museum

Royalty adopted them, George III at Mudeford in 1801, while Queen Victoria had one at Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight in the 1840s. The bathing machine was a basic wooden box on wheels pushed down by men or pulled by horses to the sea. When in the sea, prospective bathers would emerge and swim without being seen. Beaches adopting bathing machines were single-sexed beaches where men and women were segregated often by law.

At the start of the 20th Century, it became socially acceptable to be seen in a bathing costume, segregation disappeared, and wheeled bathing machines were unnecessary. Many had the wheels removed and placed above the high water mark; thus, the beach hut we know today was born. The UK’s first public beach huts are said to have been built in Bournemouth in 1909; Hut 2359 is the eldest one and has a blue plaque.

Frinton Beach Huts

Photo Beach Huts at Finton-on-Sea, Essex

Recently, the British Beach Hut has become part of UK seaside nostalgia, resulting in them exchanging hands for high prices. These huts have high prices for something that you cannot stay overnight in, and the cost to run is not cheap as many need considerable annual maintenance due to the bashing they get over the winter months.

Huts can be found at many UK seaside resorts and come in all shapes, colours and sizes. Those in the above picture at Frinton-on-Sea come on stilts, and the water laps under them at high tide. Often when referred to as a “hut”, they are of traditional wood build, whilst “chalets” could be brick or much larger.

But thankfully, we all don’t have to spend tens of thousands on a hut as you can affordably hire one for a day or a week. Peak summer month rental can be anything from £40 for the day to £200-£300 for the week, depending on location and size. They make an excellent base for a beach family holiday and give you more beach time as they provide great shelter from the UK weather. Many huts have small stoves for that essential afternoon cup of tea.

If you want to rent a beach hut or chalet, use our Beach Hut search page.

Some of the popular beaches to hire beach huts include: