Victorian and Edwardian
The Heritage Group decided in 2006 to carry out research to discover whether any examples of the cast iron street urinals and public conveniences favoured and used by the Victorians and Edwardians still existed in the 21st century.
These items of street furniture are referred to as 'Temples of Convenience' by the author Lucinda Lambton in her book.
The ongoing and progressive increase in the demand requirements for health and safety and environmental health must have speeded the demise of this type of external toilet facility. Nevertheless, it was found that urinals still exist around the country with several still in use, as can be seen from the examples shown below.
Most of these toilet facilities were provided for male use but two examples have so far been found which were for female use.
Birmingham and Bristol are two cities which have retained most of these are listed Grade II structures. They can also be found in preserved heritage railways, public parks and open air museums.
The majority of the urinals and toilets found to date, were manufactured by the firms of Walter Macfarlane & Co, Saracen Ironworks; George Smith, Sun Foundry; James Allan Snr & Son, Elmbank Foundry all located in Glasgow.
circular double doorway pattern urinal is in a very poor
and dilapidated condition, and has now been closed. It
is a Grade II listed structure. Described as a round
pattern with curved entrance screen of decorative panels
pierced to the top, with raking roof to a filigree dome
with bowl finial. Originally with porcelain stall
pattern urinal inside. It was made by George Smith &
Co at their Sun Foundry in Glasgow. It is to found in
However, it was encouraging to find on a recent visit to the area that the local authority had given the Grade II listed structure a complete upgrade, refurbishment with the original paint colour restored, as the two photos below suitably illustrate.
old photograph shows a circular urinal with single
curved doorway in Mill Lane, Bedminster,
Bristol which probably dates from
the Edwardian period. Its shape and pattern is similar
to the designs of Walter Macfarlane of Glasgow.
It eventually became stranded on a traffic island, and when the time came for its removal to make way for a road widening scheme, (it was to be moved and re-erected at a local museum), sadly it couldn't withstand the dismantlement and broke into several sections. The remains are now stored in the Bristol Industrial Museum.
This excellent restored double doorway urinal is on display at the National Tram Museum in Crich Derbyshire. It can be found adjacent to the Red Lion public house as one of the exhibits and part of the street scene.
|This strangely shaped
rectangular urinal is to be found in Sydney Gardens,
This is a Grade II listed structure which has unfortunately been allowed to deteriorate and although most of the surrounding trees and bushes have been trimmed back, the branches of trees are detrimentaly affecting the roof of the building. The continuing tree growth will eventually break the panes of the roof glazing. The name of the manufacturer is displayed on a nameplate inside the building which is now inaccessible as the doorway has been closed off and locked.
The image on the left sadly shows the condition in which the Urinal can now be found.
The first large size image has been digitally altered to show how the structure would have looked originally.
Another working example of a double doorway 4 stall urinal can be found in York House Gardens, Richmond on Thames, London.
This Urinal was manufactured by Walter Macfarlane at their Saracen Ironworks in Glasgow. This Urinal is still in use.
What a sorry state
This Urinal has
during its long
It most likely dates
from the Edwardian
It was found in a
park in Eastborne.
Another fine example of a single doorway Urinal can be found
at the Cranmore Station of the East Somerset Preserved Heritage Railway in
Somerset. The name of the manufacturer displayed on one front panel is
Walter Macfarlane of Glasgow made at their Saracenfoundry.
The urinal is at present undergoing cleaning and repainting refurbishment.
This wonderfully restored single person male
cast iron urinal can be found at the National Rail Museum in York.
It was originally sited on the platform at Curthwaite rail station in Cumberland on the Maryport &
Carlisle Railway. It was made by George Smith
& Co at their Sun Foundry in Glasgow.
This excellent example of a double doorway urinal to a design of James Allan Snr & Son Elmbank Foundry Glasgow, is in a remarkably preserved condition and can be found on the roadway under the Sydney harbour bridge in Australia.
The irony of its location is that although here is a toilet facility provided for male relief the notice on the adjacent lampost says NO STOPPING.
The name marked on the urinal is B G Plummer & Co Sydney, but comparison of the floral design on the Sydney (right hand side) panels shows an almost perfect copy with the panels (left hand side) found on the Urinal at the S.S. Great Britain exhibition site in Bristol, England.
It must follow that B G Plummer had an agreement with James Allan Snr & Son of Glasgow to manufacture their Urinals in Australia.
This fine restored example of a
Walter Macfarlane Cast iron urinal
made at their Saracen Glasgow
Foundry was manufactured during
the Edwardian period.
It can be seen at the Museum
of Welsh Life, St Fagan's, Cardiff.
The Urinal was transferred from
Llandrindod Wells, Powys where it
is understood to have been sited on
the platform of the railway station.
This double doorway Urinal is to be found in Star Yard off Chancery Lane in London. It was shown in one of the episodes of Rumpole of the Bailey TV programmes when Leo McKern was seen to enter and use it facilities. Both doorways have now been blocked off. The mounted crest has not been seen on other Urinals.
The makers name is displayed on the left external panel. It can only be seen very close up and one needs to know just where to look. The name "McDowall Steven & Co" - "Milton Ironworks" is inscribed around the top circle with the place name "Glasgow" inscribed around the botton of the circle. To view an easily readable example
iron urinals can be found sited in the grounds of
Churches or Cemeteries. Why this has happened is
open to suggestion. Three examples of this
arrangement are shown below.
When this Public Convenience that was sited in Caversham Berkshire was considered by Reading Borough Council to have reached the end of its useful life, it was closed. The year was 1980, and alternative uses were then considered, but none found to be suitable.
The toilet was originally purchased by Reading Borough Council in 1906, and provided for the use of passengers using the tramway at its Caversham terminus.
The cast iron decorated panel structure is partitioned suitable for separate male and female use, and was manufactured at the Saracen Ironfoundry of Walter MacFarlane & Co. in Glasgow.
In 1985 the building was donated by Reading Borough Council to the Chiltern Open Air Museum. Its team of dedicated volunteers then dismantled, removed and rebuilt it in its present location between the years 1987 and 1991. It was finally opened in 1992 to provide public toilet facilities for the Museum.
Both male and female toilets are provided with toilet cubicles (one cubicle has been adapted for disabled persons), and a room with hand wash basins. In addition the male toilet is fitted with several stall pattern urinals.