In an age of ever more automated – and expensive – public toilets a few early examples of late Victorian and Edwardian conveniences remain in London.
The Regency Place urinal is one of the few ’open air’ pissoirs and much used by cabbies.
Now unused and recently sold as storage for the refurbished adjacent £4.4 million house is a Grade II Listed urinal in Star Yard.
An archive photo from Historic England shows the toilet open for use in 1986, with what looks like the remains of a gas lamp bracket mid-way along the back wall.
This green rectangle of cast iron with open lattice for ventilation proudly displays the manufacturer’s logo (McDowall Steven & Co – Milton Iron Works). Once common on London’s streets, this example with its attractive panel designs was featured in a episode of Rumpole of the Bailey when the late Leo McKern is seen to enter its portal.
Another listed early loo is South End Green which had a pop idol connection. The toilets also appear in the comedy film Make Mine Mink from about 1960, Terry Thomas is being chased by the Police after a robbery, enters the toilets at one end and exits at the other in a different outfit to effect his getaway.
The Jewel Tower must be one of the least known royal buildings in London. The ‘Privy Palace’ as it was dubbed is a precious survival from the medieval Palace of Westminster, the residence of the medieval kings and their families from 11th to 16th century. It was well supplied with garderobes [toilets], with one on each of the three floors. But its main function was not as an elevated khazi but as the tower that securely housed the royal treasure.