Victorian and Edwardian
Street  Furniture


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.




This rectangular double doorway pattern urinal was manufactured
by Walter Macfarlane, and is still in use and can be found in Bristol.







This 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 north Bristol.



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.








This 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.








Another fine example of a double doorway Urinal is to be found
at the Colyford Station
of the Seaton Tramway in Devon.
The name of the manufacturer is not displayed but the pattern on
the panels is similar to those of Lockerbie & Wilkinson of Birmingham.








A fine and ornate example of a Victorian period circular double doorway cast iron urinal that is located in a central Bristol public park and appears on a 1918 OS map. It has recently been restored and is a Grade II listed structure.

Described as a round pattern pattern with curved entrance screen of decorative panels, pieced  to the top, with a raking roof to a filigree dome with bowl finial. Originally with porcelain stall pattern urinal inside.

Note the highly decorative designs on both the open and solid panels.
 
The urinal was made at the Sun Foundry of the manufacturer George Smith & Co. in Glasgow. As the foundry closed in 1899 this structure must date from the late Victorian Period.







This strangely shaped rectangular urinal is to be found in Sydney Gardens, Bath Spa.

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.









A rare example of a James Allan Snr & Son Elmbank Foundry Glasgow
rectangular single doorway Urinal located on the dockside of the
SS Great Britain
exhibition site in Bristol.
The Urinal carries the James Allan Snr & Son nameplate .



When the curtiledge of the dockside site was reduced it became necessary
  to relocate the Urinal. This presented the opportunity for the Urinal
to be refurbished and repainted, as shown below.











The Heritage Railways Connection






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 double doorway rectangular Urinal is another fine example made by George Smith & Co at their Sun Foundry in Glasgow. It can be found on the platform of Bewdley Station which is part of the Severn Valley preserved Steam Railway that runs from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth.
The urinal was  bought from British Rail, and erected in 1977. It opened in September of that year.


The photos of the Urinal on the Station platform at
Bewdley Worcs. were provided by Brough Skingley.









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. 

The photos of the Urinal were provided by
John Bolton - Scottish Ironwork Foundation.















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.



The photos of the Urinal under Sydney Harbour Bridge in
Australia were provided by Paul Yunnie of the Heritage Group.












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











This double entrance door rectangular Urinal stood at the entrance to the
dockyard in Ferry Road, Devonport.
This photograph is shown in the 'Pillar to Post' 1982 book by Henry Aarons.
It suitably shows the excellent condition it was kept in for its age.
The manufacturer is James Allan Senr & Son of Elmbank Works Glasgow.
It had 6 stalls and a pitched Georgian wired glazed roof.





When this later photograph was taken sadly the urinal had been allowed
to lapse into this very poor state of disrepair. It has since been dismantled
and removed to storage in a local Museum.





This unusual single person round urinal is located in Thorn Park, Plymouth.
It was manufactured at the Saracen Ironfoundry of
Walter MacFarlane in Glasgow









The photos of the Urinal at St Peter Port  Guernsey
  were provided by John Bolton Scottish Ironwork Foundation.


This delightful setting for a rectangular cast iron urinal can be found
at le Bordage, St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands. The mounting
at high level of the coldwater header tank gives it a different appearance.
The manufacturer is James Allan Senr & Son of Glasgow.



The Church Connection
Occasionally cast 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.





These two sections taken from another dismantled urinal sadly are
in a very dilapadated condition and can be seen installed against the
outside wall of a church in an east Bristol cemetery.
Manufacturer unknown.






These two photos of the Urinal in Ormskirk were provided
by John Bolton - Scottish Ironwork Foundation.

 
In complete contrast is this urinal sited in the grounds of an Ormskirk Church
which is in excellent condition complete with security gate to deter vandalism.
The manufacturer is McDowall Steven & Co. Milton Ironworks Glasgow.

But sadly shown below in stark contrast is this urinal sited in the grounds
of another Ormskirk Church that shows the ultimate condition of ironwork
when left to the ravages of the weather.
Possibly this urinal is the only surviving example of a
Walter Macfarlane No 5 for use by one person.





The two photos of this Urinal in Ormskirk were
provided by John Bolton - Scottish Ironwork Foundation.











The four photos of the Urinal in Harborne Birmingham were
provided by John Bolton - Scottish Ironwork Foundation.

This 6 stall Urinal possibly installed as a separate item of pavement
street furniture appears to have been absorped into the layout of the
Public House building when it was extended at a later date. No makers
name is noted on any of the cast iron panels, but the pattern on the
panels bare a resemblance to the Lockerbie & Wilkinson design.





  This 5 stall rectangular urinal manufactured by Walter Macfarlane is located
adjacent to the railway station in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham.



The photos were provided by John Clibbens.




CHILTERN OPEN AIR MUSEUM
CAVERSHAM PUBLIC CONVENIENCE WHICH
CELEBRATES ITS CENTENARY IN 2006
 
 





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.




The Heritage Group acknowledges the help and assistance
provided by the Chiltern Open Air Museum in the preparation
of this webpage.

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August  2006