Naturists want nude bathing at every beach

"WE SHALL fight them on the beaches," said Sir Winston Churchill. More than 50 years on, his words are being echoed by British naturists. This summer they will swim and bathe naked on public beaches in a campaign of direct action aimed at stripping bare public and official opposition to their lifestyle.

British Naturism, the leading UK organisation for naturists, has urged its members to bathe naked wherever they please and has pledged to defend them if they are charged.

"Our view is that every beach in Britain is a naturist beach," said Rex Watson, editor of BN, the British Naturism magazine. "If any of our members choose to put that view into practice we will defend them in court ... as long as we are satisfied that they have behaved reasonably and there's been no indecent behaviour. We want to see pests and perverts firmly dealt with, but the difference between that and recreational social nudity is obvious."

British Naturism has appointed a lobbyist to campaign for reform of laws that restrict public nudity and is raising a fund for legal battles. Men bathing naked on a beach not specifically designated for naturism face prosecution under the 1824 Vagrancy Act, which makes it illegal to expose the "male person". Women can be charged under the Public Order Act.

The Nude Tolerance Campaign, quietly launched last November, is gathering pace as summer arrives and Britain's 25,000 naturists head for beaches and clubs.

A nude cross-Channel relay swim from Kent to France next month aims to raise the awareness of the general public, or "textiles" in the naturist jargon. "We are looking to generate acceptability of non-sexual nudity," said Roger Fowler Wright, research and liaison officer for British Naturism. "We want to increase the awareness of top-free and nude beaches in many parts of the world."

Britain has 170 clubs and 10 beaches where naturism is permitted, including Brighton and Studland Bay in Dorset. The most northerly is Cleat's Shore on the Isle of Arran. But naturists feel many are ghettoes. "It's difficult for a family or older people to trundle down a remote footpath to get to a beach," said Mr Fowler Wright. "As a result, these beaches can be selective in the type of person they attract."

Naturism is now big business. British Naturism has a website dotted with tasteful pictures of naturists at play and adverts for sun cream. British Naturism members enjoy discounts on ferry services, car rental and breakdown cover and can enjoy pounds 2,000 nude Caribbean cruises. Several mainstream tour operators, including Virgin, offer naturist summer packages.

Naturism goes back several hundred years, according to British Naturism's website. Wearing clothes to go swimming only became the norm towards the end of the Victorian period. "Sunbathing has only come into its own since the start of this century, and, like swimming, it is much nicer in the nude," the website says.

Mr Watson thinks bathing suits will go out of fashion within 20 years. "It's not an elegant garment and doesn't keep you warm after you get wet."

Naturism's revival began in the 1930s, when the French started nude bathing on the Ile du Levant. After the Second World War, so-called "free beaches" were authorised on the mainland. Now such beaches are found in almost every European country and nude beaches draw thousands of visitors to Spain, France, Greece and Croatia each year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Recruitment Genius: Magento Front End Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore