A naturist beach is celebrating its 35th anniversary. To mark the occasion FLORA THOMPSON looks back through The Argus archives to see how Brighton’s Cliff Bathing Beach was depicted over the years.
On April 1, 1980, Brighton made history when it opened the first public nudist beach in the UK.
Known officially as Cliff Bathing Beach, the naturist area begins just before Black Rock at Duke’s Mound with shingle banked up to form a screen between the beach and the road. It is about a mile from the Palace Pier heading towards Brighton Marina with signs indicating the area.
The decision to welcome bathers to dare to bare all on a section of its seafront was highly controversial – but the beach remained and is still going strong after 35 years.
At the time it was hotly-contested with only half of Brighton and Hove city councillors in its favour. One of the beach’s opponents councillor John Blackman described naturism as a “flagrant exhibition of mammary glands”.
As it opened The Argus carried a front page story in the late special edition capturing images of the midnight splash.
The report said: “The first nude in the water was Kemp Town granddad Arthur Albrown, 60, ‘I am on my way to the doctor. My wife doesn’t know I am here,’ he admitted.”
And it said Coun Blackman staged a token protest at the ‘rude’ beach fully clothed.
In 2004 councillor Paul Elgood, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council, said in The Argus: “Over the past 25 years it has done a lot for Brighton’s image as a forward-looking and liberal place. It has done no end of good in attracting thousands of tourists to the beach and given the city plenty of publicity.”
Supporters say it marked the start of nudity becoming more accepted – with the Naked Bike Ride now a popular event on the city’s annual calendar and exposed body parts regularly featuring in the Brighton Fringe Festival.
Kemp Town is also home to a naturist health spa, and the UK’s first and only body casting studio can be found in Hove, where Jamie McCartney will cast parts of your body most other artists will not reach.