Sunbathers packed onto Brighton’s naturist beach to mark the anniversary of its opening.

The city became the first major resort in the UK to set up a nudist beach on August 9, 1979, following a campaign by local councillor Eileen Jakes.

The beach aimed to offer a progressive approach to normalising bodies in a non-sexual way, with around 200 yards of the beach set aside for nude bathers, despite strong opposition from some who warned the space would attract “perverts and voyeurs”.

At a heated debate where the council agreed to give the beach an initial year-long trial, Tory councillor John Blackman blasted the prospect of the “flagrant exhibition of mammary glands”.

The Argus: Dozens of people bared all and soaked up the sunshine on Brighton's naturist beachDozens of people bared all and soaked up the sunshine on Brighton's naturist beach (Image: The Argus)

He said: “I personally have got no objection to people showing their breasts and bosoms and general genitalia to one another. Jolly good luck to them, but for heaven’s sake they should go somewhere more private.”

After surviving an attempt to close it in 1983, the naturist beach is one of only 11 in the UK - with Rye Harbour Nature Reserve the only other of its kind in Sussex.

Some 44 years on, naturists on the beach today said that the space is a valuable asset for the city, with roughly 100 people stripping down to soak up the sunshine.

The Argus:

One man visiting the beach said: “It’s iconic to Brighton - not many towns have one.

“It’s not so busy and there are not so many tourists.”

Another man described the space as a “good asset for the city” and that the beach offered “freedom” to wear as much or as little as people want.

Others also praised the privacy that the area offers, with a mound of shingle obstructing the view of beachgoers.

One woman, who did not want to be named, inadvertently picked the anniversary for her first trip to the beach.

She said: “It’s nice - it feels better, with some privacy.”

However, unfortunately, the beach does attract some people with poor intentions, with reports of beachgoers performing sex acts while visiting.