London's first public lavatories were built over rivers; their output was enough to choke off the flow of the Fleet River, a tributary of the Thames.It was the Victorian engineer George Jennings who pioneered London's distinctive public conveniences - tiled underground chambers marked by iron railings or arches at street level.
Their introduction did not go unopposed, however. Playwright George Bernard Shaw, who was also a local politician, sparked outrage among burghers in his north London ward when he campaigned for a lavatory for the female workers of Camden Town.
"Many public loos occupy prime sites; thanks to the property boom, local councils have found themselves sitting on a valuable asset." THE ECONOMIST
Allen Maskell writes to Derelict London : “Excellent site, decay and the march of progress driven by local admin, mindless destruction of local history and individual style rubbed out forever. Keep it up, please, perhaps one day these people will change. Your section on Underground public toilets is of great interest to me as I do remember 10 years ago an offer from Lambeth of £1 per year lease deal. perhaps I was dreaming. My idea then was to lease those disused Ladies & gents to open a music studio. The underground space having two exits to comply with fire regs etc, the offer from the mayor and his merry men dissapeared quickly.”
Mock Tudor (disused) public toilet at Clapton Common
Bow, E3 - Derelict Public Conveniences
These long closed down Victorian (opened 1899) public toilets by St Mary's Church in Bow were in far cleaner condition than I expected when I popped down via a small gap in the fence recently. This was due to a project which cleaned out the litter and opened the toilets as an arts installation called "Listed Loo" for just one weekend in 2012. So only 3 years instead of 23+ years of litter though there was still a thick layer of recent rat droppings as a potential slip hazard down the steps.
The arts installation involved red paint which is why some of the tiles are daubed in it. This red paint is symbolic of the statue which sits above the toilets. The statue is of the then Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone erected in 1882 by Theodore Bryant of the nearby Bryant & May match factory. The statue was erected using the surplus money Bryant & May gained once matches were no longer taxed (the taxes were abolished in theory to increase the worker’s wages).The female workers were forced to take a half day’s unpaid leave to celebrate the statue’s unveiling and are said to have cut their arms in protestation.The outstretched hand of the statue has been daubed with red paint on several occasions as a tribute to the women.
Thanks to Constantino for the heads up about entry to this place.
Meanwhile another lease of life to disused public toilets in Spitalfields, E1
These toilets in front of Christ Church in Commercial Street, Spitalfields were originally converted into the Public Life night club but had its license revoked by the council after a police raid by 50 officers in 2011 closed the club after conducting a search of the premises that resulted in 13 arrests. They also found that the club was holding more people than legally permitted. The building was originally a public toilet and is only licensed to hold 60 people, including staff.Must have been a bit tight in there during the raid!
Now Public Life is a second hand clothes shop. As with many second hand shops in this part of the town it's billed as "Vintage"
Here is a selection of toilets across the capital (click to enlarge):
This "amazing find" of a derelict public toilet was in a park in the Isle of Dogs overlooked by the concrete & glass structures of Canary Wharf. I was disappointed not to see any rats..... To clear up any confusion here, this Millwall is actually north of the Thames and not SE London. Many people presume that Millwall is in SE London because the football team recently played in New Cross & now in Bermondsey. Millwall Rovers was founded by workers at Morton's Jam Factory on the Isle of Dogs in 1885. Millwall played on a variety of grounds on the Isle of Dogs. It was not unusual for Millwall to attract thirty or forty thousand spectators to a game, especially at their second ground at East Ferry Road.They moved South of the River to The Den at New Cross, SE14 in 1910.
NOTTING HILL GATE
Craig writes to Derelict London: "a popular toilet was Notting Hill Gate. In the rush hours, it was standing room only! It was very popular with married men and other ' straights' looking for a fumble on the way home.Today, there are very few public toilets left which is a shame. Not only did they prevent the incidences of people using shop doorways as toilets, they did provide an opportunity for gay men to find others like themselves long before gay bars. Public toilets are not a very photogenic subject, unless you are Verity Lambert, who wrote a very good book on the subject praising the architecture of such places. but they did fulfill a useful role for lonely men and the police who were happy to spend hours, if not days, spying on the activities through holes drilled into the lock up doors or from empty council flats opposite. Lambeth Council was quite happy to allow this. The Victorian underground toilet at Kennington Oval was often raided on the pretext that some member of the public had complained. I think it had more to do with gay men being seen as soft targets. Today, attitudes have changed. However, many public toilets have seen the end of careers for both famous people and others who were caught in flagrante delicto."
The proposed development of these disused public underground toilets on this historic green have been the subject of much outrage among residents and local traders.The Council have scrapped plans due to public pressure despite planning interest from 19 companies.
The Green has been visited by generations of political dissenters from the Wat Tyler to Lenin. In 1842, the Prime Minister Robert Peel banned public meetings from taking place here. In 1890, the world's 1st ever May Day march left from here.The Green was described by poet Sir John Betjeman as "a remarkable haven of peace amid the roar of public transport and heavy lorries".
Public ToLet - Refurbishment Opportunity!! Planners will stop at nothing these days............
Nothing is sacred in the ever changing face (& high property prices) of London. According to the British Toilet Association -- yes, a pro-toilet lobby group - a third of the lavatories run by city councils have closed in the last three years. There is now only one public toilet for every 10,000 people in England, they say.Some call it a fine example of urban regeneration. But others fear Britain's public toilets are an endangered species.
Here is another gallery with selection of toilets from across the capital (click to enlarge)
Where Wilfred Brambell (Albert Steptoe) was allegedly nicked for trying to entice boys.
Craig writes: "Many years ago I went into the toilets in the early 1980s not long before they were closed for good.It was so dark because the windows were tiny and had overgrown with vegetation. You couldn't see your hand in front of your face, it was that gloomy. Gingerly walking forward hoping to find a urinal to pee, my eyes began to adjust and I realised that there must have been at least 10 men in there in various groups and positions! Nobody stopped, they just carried on."
Chris writes: "Brought back memories seeing this -I once rode over it very worriedly as an eleven year old or so, having just slammed my pubescent wedding tackle into the handlebar stem on my bicycle while riding on Barnes Common. I was pretty certain I was going to find various bit’s of my anatomy cut off before their prime! Happy to say everything was intact! – Well at least as intact as before :=))"
Not so trendy toilet backstage at Bull & Gate Kentish Town.Imagine all the famous bands who have played there & used this toilet! Manic Street Preachers? Coldplay?